Democrats boycott Senate panel, prevent vote on Pruitt nomination 

Posted: 12:01 pm Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

By Jamie Dupree

Democrats in the U.S. Senate boycotted a meeting of a key Senate committee on Wednesday, delaying a vote on the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, as Republicans vowed to get Pruitt approved in coming days.

“This is simply a Senatorial temper tantrum,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK). “As all the parents here know, temper tantrums waste a lot of energy, but they don’t accomplish anything.”

“It is disappointing that our Democrat colleagues are not here doing their job,” said Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE).

Instead, Democrats were out in the hallway outside the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, telling reporters that they want more answers out of Pruitt, whom they argue is unfit to head the EPA.

“Americans deserve answers from Scott Pruitt before our committee proceeds,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE).

Republicans mocked the Democratic demand for more answers, saying they have already showered Pruitt with hundreds of dilatory queries.

At one point, Pruitt’s home state Senator, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, rattled off a few of the questions that had been sent to Pruitt.

“Senator Markey’s 61st question,” Inhofe began, “For each year since 1995 – that’s twenty two years of records – please provide information regarding the state of Oklahoma’s environmental enforcement efforts,” as Inhofe said it was just an effort to slow down President Trump.

“Scott Pruitt has answered a thousand more questions than any nominee of the last three Presidential administrations,” Inhofe said with a note of frustration in his voice.

The boycott has been used successfully before in this committee – four years ago it was Republicans who refused to show up at this committee, delaying President Obama’s pick for EPA for three months.

“I pledge to move the nomination of Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency as expeditiously as possible,” said panel chair Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).

But it wasn’t clear whether that would involve a move to change the committee’s rules, something that the GOP did earlier in the day in the Senate Finance Committee, to move ahead with President Trump’s nominees for Treasury and HHS secretaries.