Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to delay a vote to confirm Scott Pruitt as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, citing a pending public records request that could divulge more information about him.
McConnell filed cloture on Monday for a vote on Pruitt later this week. But Democrats, who oppose Pruitt’s confirmation, want to hold off in case a court requires Pruitt to produce communications documents, including emails, pertaining to his work as Oklahoma attorney general, which could shed more light on his stance on issues relevant to the EPA.
“These records are needed for the Senate to evaluate Mr. Pruitt’s suitability to serve in the position for which he has been nominated,” the Democrats wrote.
The District Court of Oklahoma County holds a Thursday hearing on the public records request, filed by the liberal nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy.
The group filed a lawsuit on Feb. 7 over the attorney general office’s failure to comply with a records request for two years. Thursday’s hearing will focus on whether the group should get an expedited response.
Democratic Senators made a similar request during Pruitt’s confirmation hearing, asking him to provide communications documents from his work as attorney general. Pruitt repeatedly declined, suggesting 28 times in written responses that senators should file a public records request.
In a letter to McConnell dated Monday and released on Tuesday, all 10 Democrats on the committee said the information they sought “is likely to be produced in the very near term” because of the lawsuit.
The Democrats boycotted the committee vote over Pruitt’s refusal to give them the documents. Republicans ultimately suspended some committee rules in order to bring Pruitt’s confirmation to a full Senate vote without any Democrats present.