The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday morning delayed its vote on the nomination of Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency after Democrats boycotted the vote.
Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) announced after none of the committee’s 10 Democratic members showed up to the 10:45 a.m. vote that it would be postponed.
“Not having a vote on this nominee today, not organizing this important committee, is a shame,” he said.
Democrats on the committee have argued that Pruitt, the current Oklahoma attorney general, has not sufficiently answered their questions about his tenure in Oklahoma. Pruitt, who has sued the Obama administration over various environmental and climate regulations, is a controversial pick for the top EPA job because he is a climate change skeptic.
During the scheduled vote time, Republican members of the committee chastised their Democratic colleagues for failing to attend, with staffers holding up posters of Democrats’ comments criticizing obstructionism back in 2013.
“Senators can vote yes or they can vote no,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), adding that “failing to show up does not serve our constituents.”
Sen. John Boozman (R-Arkansas) noted that Pruitt has been through a “grueling nomination process” and has answered a record number of questions. And Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) called on Democrats to “cease the temper tantrums” and do their jobs.
It’s worth noting that back in 2013, Republicans pulled the same move: none of the GOP members of this Senate committee showed up to vote on then-President Obama’s nominee to head the EPA, Gina McCarthy.
Democrats are boycotting other nominees put forward by President Donald Trump: on Tuesday, they blocked the Senate Finance Committee votes for health and human services nominee Tom Price and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin. However, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch on Wednesday suspended the committee rules to allow for a vote without Democrats present, voting to approve both nominees and move them toward a vote by the full Senate.