Democrats boycott controversial EPA nominee Scott Pruitt’s committee confirmation vote

By Brady Dennis, Chris Mooney and David Weigel, The Washington Post.

Even as Republican senators pushed President Trump’s treasury and health and human services nominees through committees Wednesday despite Democratic-blocking tactics, Democrats failed to show up for a planned vote on Environmental Protection Agency nominee Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma.

“I have been informed that no Democrats will be in attendance,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “It is a disappointing turn of events.”

While Democrats stayed away from the hearing room, their staff distributed an amendment from ranking member Tom Carper (D-Del.) that would add new standards requiring nominees to submit more financial information. Republicans, meanwhile, took turns describing how unreasonable they felt the Democrats had been in asking more than 1,000 follow-up questions after Pruitt’s Jan. 18 hearing.

“I got exhausted just listening to the questions,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V). “Disagreement with a nominee’s position is not a reason to boycott a hearing.”

Each Republican member of the committee made a statement, throwing Democrats’ previous comments about obstruction back at them, though no Democrat was present to hear.

“I ask my Democratic colleagues: Will they take the blame for an EPA that is not fully informational?” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). “God forbid we have an environmental crisis.”

As one after another lawmaker spoke, a GOP aide displayed a chart designed to show how quickly past EPA nominees had been confirmed. Notably missing from it, however, was President Barack Obama’s second EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy. Nominated in March 2013, she was not confirmed until July of that year — and at one point, committee Republicans boycotted a meeting to demand that McCarthy answer more questions.