WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2017 - The Environmental Protection Agency should have a new administrator in place by this weekend to carry out President Trump’s agenda of reducing the impact of federal regulations on agriculture and other sectors.
Democrats are expected to register fierce opposition to Scott Pruitt’s nomination, but the Senate is expected to approve his nomination by Saturday at the latest, according to a GOP leadership aide. Democrats have been unable to stop any of Trump’s nominees from getting confirmed, but they have been dragging out the voting process as long as possible, creating a backlog that has delayed the approval of even noncontroversial nominees.
In Pruitt’s case, Democrats boycotted the committee vote, forcing Republicans to change the panel’s rules in order to advance his nomination. There has been no sign that the Oklahoma attorney general will lose Republican votes on the floor, and Pruitt is expected to get support from at least a couple of Democrats. “It’s time to
fundamentally change the direction of the EPA. Scott Pruitt is the right person to do that,” said Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo.
Trump’s pick for agriculture secretary, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, is expected to sail to confirmation. However, he likely won’t get a hearing before March. His nomination wasn’t announced until Jan. 19 and the Senate Agriculture Committee has yet to receive all his paperwork.
Prospects are a little less clear for another Trump nominee who would be important to agriculture, Andrew Puzder, the president’s pick to run the Labor Department. Puzder, who is CEO of CKE Restaurants, parent company of the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. chains, has been dogged by accusations of labor violations and the revelations that he hadn’t paid taxes for years on an illegal immigrant he employed as a housekeeper. Those other issues are certain to dominate Puzder’s confirmation, which is scheduled for Thursday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
As many as four Republicans reportedly could vote against him. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Puzder was “uniquely qualified” to be Labor Secretary. “Hopefully we’ll get this hearing this week and deal with him when we get back” from the week-long President’s Day recess, McConnell said.
One of the four Republicans who has reservations about Puzder, Tim Scott of South Carolina, said he wanted to hear his response to the concerns that have been raised about him. Scott said he also wanted Puzder to address how he would go about improving Americans’ job skills.