Andrew Puzder withdrew his Labor secretary nomination; Michael Flynn tendered his resignation as National Security Adviser (with his security clearance suspended pending review) today, and now Republican Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) saying she will oppose President Trump’s EPA nominee Scott Pruitt (via
Collins [joins independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine in her opposition to Pruitt as EPA administrator. In announcing his decision last month, King said there’s no record that he can find of Pruitt being “affirmative and strong” in enforcing environmental laws as attorney general.
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.
For her part, Collins says she has not agreed with every regulatory action that EPA has issued, either.
“At times, I have found the agency difficult to work with,” she says.
But she says she is also worried about the potential for weakening a federal agency that works to implement and enforce landmark environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Clean Power Plan.
A vote to confirm Pruitt is expected later this week. Collins says in keeping with her past practice, regardless of which party is in the White House, she will vote for cloture on Pruitt’s nomination so that every member of the Senate can have a clear, up or down vote.
“But I will vote no on Mr. Pruitt’s confirmation,” she says.
Collins, along with Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) also voted against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, which gave Senate Republicans heartburn due to their slim majority. It also pushed back a vote to confirm Jeff Sessions as attorney general since they needed his vote to maintain the 50-50 split; Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie. Both women said they announced their opposition only after they had the confidence that the rest of the GOP was lock step behind her.
For Pruitt, there’s less anxiety. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) praised Pruitt’s nomination and will likely vote with the Republicans to confirm him. Sessions’ replacement, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, was sworn in last week.