Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a committee business meeting to consider the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The remarks came in response to the committee’s Democrats boycotting the business meeting.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“I have been informed that no Democrats will be in attendance this morning in an effort to delay and obstruct the nomination of Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“It is a disappointing this turn of events.
“On January 21, 1993, EPA Administrator Nominee Carol Browner under Democrat President Bill Clinton was confirmed by the Senate. One day after he took office.
“On January 30, 2001, EPA Administrator Nominee Christine Todd Whitman under Republican President George W. Bush was confirmed by the full Senate.
“On January 22, 2009, EPA Administrator Nominee Lisa Jackson under Democrat President Barrack Obama was confirmed by the full Senate. Two days after he took office.
“Today is February 1, and the minority has now obstructed even having a vote in committee on President Donald Trump’s nominee, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
“I hope this is not the new normal.
“We cannot afford for the EPA to go without an administrator for the foreseeable future.
“This will impact future EPA administrator nominees.
“These precedents for delay will likely live long after today’s nominee has left office.
“This boycott not only affects the EPA, but it also prevents this committee from organizing.
“No one can complain about the Trump administration and its policies if they sabotage the very formation of the committee that is supposed to conduct the oversight.
“There are a number of consequences to not having a fully functional EPA and a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
“There are a lot of key issues for EPA and the Senate EPW committee that we could be working on, including-Waters of the United States policy, cold war legacy pollution cleanup, addressing brownfields, and ensuring implementation of the new TSCA legislation to name a few.
“None of it is made better by this boycott, which amounts to nothing more than political theater at the expense of working on issues that we care about.
“The ranking member and the minority have complained about the nomination process. Let’s set the record straight.
“Attorney General Pruitt has been put through an extremely thorough and fair process.
“I would like to read quotes from the members of the minority who have praised the unprecedented hearing we had on the nominee while the hearing was occurring.
“The ranking member stated: ‘I appreciate the way you’ve conducted this hearing today. I appreciate all the members coming and coming back again and again.’
“My colleague from New Jersey stated: ‘First of all, to you, sir, this is my first time going through nomination hearings. You have been very generous with the way you have been conducting these hearings. I think it is important that we note that, and I appreciate the number of rounds that you are doing.’
“My colleague from Rhode Island stated: ‘I think that you have been fair.’
“These members are correct. The hearing was fair.
“It was historic in its length of time for member questions of the nominee.
“Let’s be clear, attorney General Pruitt has answered more questions than any past EPA administrator nominee in recent memory.
“He answered a total of more than 1,200 questions.
“Pruitt has answered over 1,000 more questions than the EPA Administrator nominees from the incoming Obama, Bush, and Clinton administrations.
“The letter that the ranking member sent me dated January 30 highlighted what he believed were a lack of substantive answers from the nominee.
“To that, I would quote my colleague from Rhode Island, in 2013, when he stated during the McCarthy nomination business meeting that: ‘It is not the minority’s right to get nominees to agree with them in advance.’
“The minority may not like all of Attorney General Pruitt’s answers, but he’s given them answers.
“Ranking Member Carper made a prescient prediction during the first nomination business meeting for Gina McCarthy, in 2013, when he stated: ‘Someday there will be a Republican president. Someday the Republicans are going to be in the majority in the Senate.
“And that Republican president is going to have his or her cabinet in place. I think you could nominate, a governor or the president nominates good people, honest people, hard-working people, they ought to get at least a vote.’ He continued by saying ‘they ought to get a vote, and I think they ought to get our support.’
“Mr. Pruitt ought to get at least a vote.
“He ought to get a vote, and I think he ought to get our support.”