- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 16, 2017

Scott Pruitt cleared his first test in the Senate Thursday morning, with two Democrats joining Republicans in advancing the former Oklahoma attorney general one step closer to becoming administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The chamber voted 54 to 46 to advance Mr. Pruitt, breaking Democrats’ attempts to hold up his nomination. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, both Democrats, voted to advance Mr. Pruitt’s nomination.

A final vote is expected before Friday evening.

While it’s almost certain he’ll be confirmed, Mr. Pruitt has come under fire from both sides of the aisle in recent days. Democrats contend that Mr. Pruitt, who frequently clashed with the EPA in court during his time in Oklahoma, is bent on tearing down the very agency he’s set to lead.

“Donald Trump has made clear his job, his goal, is to degrade, to destroy, the Environmental Protection Agency,” Sen. Tom Carper, Delaware Democrat, said on the floor of the Senate just before the vote. “With the nomination of Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA, it’s clear” he was serious about that goal.

Mr. Pruitt also is facing opposition from at least one Republican senator. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said Wednesday night she’ll vote against the nominee in Friday’s final vote, saying he’s simply not fit to lead the agency.

“I have significant concerns that Mr. Pruitt has actively opposed and sued EPA on numerous issues that are of great importance to the state of Maine, including mercury controls for coal-fired power plants and efforts to reduce cross-state air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” she said in a statement. “His actions leave me with considerable doubts about whether his vision for the EPA is consistent with the agency’s critical mission to protect human health and the environment.”

Still, Mr. Pruitt’s nomination isn’t truly in doubt. Other than Ms. Collins, every other Republican in the Senate is expected to support him, as is Mr. Manchin.

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