Susan Collins Voted Against Confirming Pruitt To The EPA-- But Only After She Voted To Make Sure He WOULD Be Confirmed
Thursday, the Republicans invoked cloture to shut down the debate over the qualifications of one of
A few hours later, Rachel Maddow revealed-- in the opening of her show (video, up top; you can skip the gruesome first 12 minutes if you have a queasy tummy)-- why there should have been no rush to cut off debate on Pruitt. Maine Republican Susan Collins, who did vote to shut down the debate so that Miss McConnell could rush to a vote, told her constituents that she would vote against Pruitt.
Collins tells Maine Public Radio she met at length with Pruitt and reviewed testimony from his confirmation hearing. She says he’s “an accomplished attorney with considerable knowledge about environmental laws,” and if he were nominated for another position in the federal government, Collins says she might support him.But McConnell was in a frantic, breakneck rush to get Pruitt voted on Friday-- or, at least, before Tuesday. Why? Oklahoma County District Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons ordered Pruitt to release the papers he's been illegally hiding about his relationship with the Big Oil and Gas corporations who are behind his nomination. Timmons found that "there was an abject failure to provide prompt and reasonable access to documents requested."
But when it comes to the role and mission of the EPA, Collins says she and the nominee have very different visions.
“Specifically, I have significant concerns that Mr. Pruitt has actively opposed and sued the EPA on numerous issues that are of great importance to the state of Maine, including mercury controls for coal-fired power plants and efforts to reduce cross-state air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” she says. “His actions leave me with considerable doubts about whether his vision for the EPA is consistent with the agency’s critical mission to protect human health and the environment.”
...Pruitt has sued the EPA 14 times, and according to a letter from more than 400 former EPA workers last week, issued more than 50 press releases celebrating lawsuits to overturn EPA standards to limit mercury emissions from power plants, reduce smog and haze, clean up the Chesapeake Bay and control greenhouse gases.
Pruitt’s record, they wrote, “raises serious questions about whose interests he has served to date and whether he agrees with longstanding tenets of U.S. environmental law.”
During his Senate confirmation hearing, Pruitt was grilled over a series of letters he sent to federal agencies on state stationery that were critical of the economic effects of environmental rules, and drafted, almost word for word, by energy lobbyists. He has also been criticized as a climate change denier and someone who has indicated that he would like to see a limited role for the EPA.
[The Center for Media and Democracy, a] liberal watchdog group had asked for the correspondence between Pruitt's office and Koch Industries, mining and drill companies and the Republican Attorneys General Association, according to the CMD's general counsel, Arn Pearson.Democrats asked McConnell to hold the vote until next week so that they can evaluate the papers that will be released Tuesday. "This information," said Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), "ought to be evaluated before Republicans jam his nomination through to lead the EPA. The Majority Leader should delay the vote to confirm Mr. Pruitt until the Senate has had time to review the documents the Oklahoma judge has ordered to be released. This is basic due diligence and fairness." Thursday night Jeff Merkley (D-OR) agreed and pointed out that "McConnell is forcing the Senate to vote tomorrow on Pruitt even though his emails won’t be released until Tuesday. This is an egregious cover up that must not stand." Schumer even offered to vote on another nominee in place of Pruitt to give senators time to look at emails next week, but Miss McConnell told him to go pound sand.
"Those are the types of things we're looking for that go toward his conflicts of interest and whether he'll be carrying out the agenda of fossil fuel companies and not carrying out the EPA's mandate," Pearson said.
At the time of the hearing on Thursday, the attorney general's office had provided only 411 of the more than 3,000 emails the CMD had requested. The office turned over the 411 emails earlier this week, although the group filed its first request two years ago.
..."Scott Pruitt and Senate Republicans have made a mockery of the confirmation process, permitting the nominee to escape scrutiny and hide his deep ties to the fossil fuel industry," Sierra Club Legislative Director Melinda Pierce said in a statement. "What is he hiding in all of these emails?
"The vote to confirm Pruitt must now be delayed until every senator can see just who Pruitt is and what he will do if permitted to run the EPA," Pierce said.
But stand it did. McConnell-- with the help of Manchin and Heitkamp (and Collins)-- forced the vote anyway. And because Manchin and Heitkamp were voting with the GOP on this, it didn't matter than Collins voted NO and that McCain was away at a conference in Germany. Friday morning there were 2 votes, one to extend the debate, which lost 51-47 (party line-- with Donnelly and McCain away). And then the vote to confirm, which passed 52-46, Heitkamp and Manchin voting with the Republicans and Donnelly in hiding.
Tom Guild, the progressive Democrat endorsed by Blue America for the Oklahoma City congressional seat is not fan of Pruitt's. Right after the confirmation vote he told us that "Pruitt is an embarrassment to the people of Oklahoma. He will now be a national disaster for the entire country to behold. He never met a polluter, or a billionaire donor, or a Wall Street Executive, or a big corporation (Romney says they are people, too, my friends) he didn’t like. Artificially created earthquakes have now made sleepy Oklahoma the new Earthquake Capital of the World in just a few short years. Pruitt’s fossilized political philosophy of putting people last and wealthy special interests first, fits perfectly with his overly protective stance and utter lack of regulation of the fossil fuels industry. He has never said that he believes that Climate Change is caused in whole or in part by human activity. No one’s life, liberty, or property is safe with Scott Pruitt in charge of anything, much less the EPA. It is a sad day for America, that the Trump Administration has sunk so low they would even consider someone of Pruitt’s low caliber for an important and crucial job. It’s a sad day and a tragedy for America!"