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. During the meeting, the committee voted to suspend its rules and move Attorney General Pruitt’s nomination forward.

Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“We are reconvening our business meeting to consider the nomination of Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be EPA administrator, the committee funding resolution, and the committee rules.

“Yesterday, the minority members of the committee chose to boycott this business meeting. It is disappointing that they chose that course of action but we will not allow it to obstruct. 

“As I stated yesterday, this committee has conducted an extremely thorough and fair process of reviewing Attorney General Pruitt’s nomination. 

“That includes a hearing of unprecedented length, number of questions, and timely responses from the nominee.

“It is unprecedented for the minority to delay an EPA administrator for an incoming president to this extent. 

“We had an election last November. The people spoke and now it is time to set up a functioning government.

“That includes a functioning EPA. To do that, this committee has to do its work.” 


Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.

Later in the meeting, Senator Barrasso continued:

“Let me make clear to everyone what just happened. 

“Yesterday, the minority members of the committee chose to boycott our business meeting because they do not support the nomination of Scott Pruitt. 

“As we pointed out yesterday, elections have consequences and a new president is entitled to put in place people who will advance his agenda, the agenda that the people voted for when they elected him president.

“Today, we suspended several of the rules of the EPW committee for this business meeting only.   

“We took this extraordinary step because the minority members of the committee took the extraordinary step of boycotting the business meeting to approve an EPA administrator for an incoming administration.

“We have been in consultation with the Senate parliamentarian and she has informed us that the procedure we have followed today is proper under the Senate rules and no point of order will lie against the Pruitt nomination. 

“The minority has put us in unchartered waters.

“Never before in the history of the EPA has a new president’s incoming administrator nominee been boycotted.

“The last three nominees for new incoming administrations were all confirmed by the end of January.

“Yesterday, February 1st, the minority blocked even having a vote in committee of the nominee.

“Attorney General Pruitt sat through the longest EPA nomination hearing in history and answered the most questions.

“The complaints about Attorney General Pruitt’s answers to questions is simply a smokescreen. 

“Let me be clear, the leadership of the minority chose to do a blanket boycott of many of the president’s nominees in committees across the Senate regardless of their merit.

“The minority wants political theater. The nation needs a new EPA administrator.

“At the end of this meeting, the committee rules will be back in full effect. 

“I expect to conduct all further business of this committee under those rules and hope that from this point forward we will be able to work together in a bipartisan manner.

“Before we adjourn it is important to note that in 2009, then Chairman Boxer reported legislation from this committee without meeting the quorum requirements under the committee rules.

“With regard to boycott comparisons with Gina McCarthy’s nomination, the EPW Republicans were not stopping President Obama from setting up his government.

“Gina McCarthy was a second term nominee. President Obama’s political appointees, including Gina McCarthy, were already at EPA advancing President Obama’s agenda.”