GOP senators move Trump EPA pick ahead as Dems boycott vote

WASHINGTON — Republicans voted to send to the full Senate the nomination of President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

The vote came after Republican suspended committee rules to muscle through the vote, because Democrats boycotted the meeting.

Seats reserved for the 10 Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee were empty Thursday, as the meeting to advance the nomination of Scott Pruitt was gaveled to order. Accusing the absent Democrats of obstruction, the remaining 11 Republicans voted unanimously to suspend rules requiring at least two members of the minority party to be present for a vote to be held.

In 2013, GOP members of the same committee boycotted a similar committee meeting on Gina McCarthy, President Obama’s then-nominee for EPA administrator. McCarthy was eventually approved by the Senate, serving in the post until Trump’s inauguration earlier this month.

Pruitt is currently suing the EPA in his role as attorney general of Oklahoma, something he has done 14 times, and has said he will not recuse himself from the case if confirmed as the department’s new head.

–Associated Press & Staff reports

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