Republicans Continue to Change Committee Rules

February 2nd 2017

Mike Rothschild

On Thursday, Senate Democrats continued their strategy of boycotting committee hearings to move potential cabinet nominees selected by President Donald Trump to full Senate votes. In turn, Republicans also continued their own strategy of changing the rules of these committees on the fly, and removing the need for one Democrat to be present to have a quorum.

Republicans were able to get Department of Health and Human Services nominee Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Treasury Department nominee Steve Mnuchin through their committee hearings utilizing this tactic Wednesday. The exact same method was used by Republicans to advance Pruitt, Trump's controversial pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

As attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt was involved in over a dozen lawsuits against the EPA. He actively fought to block regulations related to the Obama administration's climate change proposals, and has worked to dismantle protections against clean air and water that have been labeled by conservatives as unfriendly to corporations.

Pruitt's also a denier of the scientific consensus on climate change, writing in the National Review in May that "scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind."

In refusing to vote on Pruitt, Democrats expressed a number of concerns related to how he would run a government agency that he's spent so much time being actively in conflict against - while also citing that he hadn't adequately explained his ties to the oil and gas industry.

Pruitt advanced in committee 11-0, while Office of Management and Budget pick Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) was also approved Wednesday. Pruitt, like Mnuchin and Price, will go to the Senate next week for what's expected to be a confirmation vote along party lines.