Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia will buck their party and vote in favor of confirming Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Manchin voted to end cloture on Pruitt’s confirmation Thursday, signaling he would vote in favor of President Donald Trump’s nominee. Manchin’s office confirmed to The Daily Caller News Foundation he would vote “yes” on Pruitt.
Heitkamp’s office confirmed to New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin Thursday she would also be a “yes” vote on Pruitt.
Heitkamp a YES on Pruitt, her office announces.
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) February 16, 2017
Manchin and Heitkamp are bucking their party, which has overwhelmingly come out against Pruitt who they say will eliminate environmental protections. Environmentalists and lawmakers say Pruitt is a “climate denier” who will do the bidding of “Big Oil.”
A coalition of liberal groups recently sued Pruitt’s AG office for records they say will prove the EPA nominee colluded with energy companies to roll back environmental rules.
Pruitt’s been involved in a number of lawsuits against EPA over the years, challenging regulations he argued impinged on state sovereignty and hurt local economies. Pruitt’s promised to recuse himself from cases he worked on against EPA in the last year.
Democrats plan to hold the floor for the next 30 hours to push back Pruitt’s confirmation vote.
“We’re not going to back down,” Delaware Sen. Tom Carper said in an online video, “we’re going to hold our ground.”
Manchin’s and Heitkamp’s “yes” votes on Pruitt more than make up for Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collin’s planned “no” vote.
Trump is expected to sign executive orders targeting EPA global warming regulations and other programs shortly after Pruitt is confirmed.
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