McCain Will Skip Confirmation Vote On Trump's EPA Nominee

Posted: Feb 17, 2017 1:05 PM

Update: As Christine wrote, Pruitt is in at the EPA.

***Original Post***

President Trump’s EPA nominee, Scott Pruitt, is expected to be confirmed today, but with one Republican not present: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). He wasn’t keen on delaying his plans attending the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany and took an earlier flight Thursday to make sure he was there on time. Politico reported that eleven other senators are also attending the conference, but their Friday flight was delayed to ensure that they could cast their vote on Pruitt before leaving. This is what prompted McCain to ditch early. The Arizona senator that he's been attending the conference for 40 years, and that he was set to deliver a speech.

Sen. John McCain is determined to get to an annual national security conference in Germany on time — even if it means skipping an important confirmation vote and having to book himself his own flight.

McCain had planned to depart with 11 other senators and four House members on a military plane in time for the Arizona Republican to take part in a panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference on Friday evening.

But the military plane is being delayed to allow the senators to stick around for a vote Friday afternoon to confirm Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. That decision came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued a plea for the senators to stay.

McCain said in an interview that he decided to jump on a different flight leaving Thursday night after learning the military plane's departure would be delayed.

Yet, McCain’s absence isn’t a source of heartburn. If eleven actually were able to leave before then—maybe—but Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), both red state Democrats up for reelection next year, will be voting for Pruitt. Also, I would bet that McCain would have voted in favor of confirmation, but Senate Democrats decided to do all that they could to delay Trump’s nominees. That being said, EPA staffers are trying to block Pruitt by leaning on their elected representatives:

Employees of the Environmental Protection Agency have been calling their senators to urge them to vote on Friday against the confirmation of Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s contentious nominee to run the agency, a remarkable display of activism and defiance that presages turbulent times ahead for the E.P.A.

Many of the scientists, environmental lawyers and policy experts who work in E.P.A. offices around the country say the calls are a last resort for workers who fear a nominee selected to run an agency he has made a career out of fighting — by a president who has vowed to “get rid of” it.

“Mr. Pruitt’s background speaks for itself, and it comes on top of what the president wants to do to E.P.A.,” said John O’Grady, a biochemist at the agency since the first Bush administration and president of the union representing the E.P.A.’s 15,000 employees nationwide.

Nicole Cantello, an E.P.A. lawyer who heads the union in the Chicago area, said: “It seems like Trump and Pruitt want a complete reversal of what E.P.A. has done. I don’t know if there’s any other agency that’s been so reviled. So it’s in our interests to do this.”

The union has sent emails and posted Facebook and Twitter messages urging members to make the calls.