Dem: No hearing for EPA pick until questions answered

Source: BY TIMOTHY CAMA, The Hill • Posted: Thursday, January 12, 2017

The top Democrat on the panel considering President-elect Donald Trump‘s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Tuesday he is not ready to host hearings on the potential administrator’s confirmation.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said Scott Pruitt has not yet responded to a list of about 50 questions the panel’s Democrats sent and that Pruitt’s standard FBI background check is not complete.

Carper said committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) should not schedule a hearing until Pruitt completes those items and senators have a chance to review them.

“We would certainly want to have responses to the seven pages of questions,” Carper told reporters Tuesday.

“We want to have the opportunity to review those questions and maybe ask some follow-up questions to them if the responses are not comprehensive. And we’d want to have a chance to drill down on the FBI review of this nominee, as we would for any other nominee,” he said.

Carper’s concerns align with those of Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has accused the president-elect and Senate Republicans of trying to rush nominees through the confirmation process.

Schumer has said in recent days that many of Trump’s Cabinet nominees have not gone through federal ethics reviews, answered senators’ questions or completed background checks. Until those steps are taken, Schumer said, the Senate should not move forward on confirmations.

Pruitt, the current attorney general of Oklahoma, has completed his ethics review and financial disclosures.

Carper sent Pruitt the questionnaire nearly two weeks ago. It included general questions like Pruitt’s outlook on the EPA’s mission, along with specific questions such as the funding history of his office.

Carper met with Pruitt last week and said he has “grave concerns.” Other Democrats have been more forceful, like Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who called Pruitt’s selection “a sickening and saddening choice.”