Carper to block Trump’s CEQ pick

Source: Kevin Bogardus, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s top Democrat may add to the White House’s paperwork next year.

Delaware Sen. Tom Carper said yesterday he would object to the Senate holding over the Trump administration’s pending nominees into next year’s session.

Carper’s move — which would cause President Trump to resubmit all of his pending nominees next year — targets the nomination of Kathleen Hartnett White for chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

“Throughout her nomination process, Kathleen Hartnett White has confirmed what her record clearly shows: her views are extreme, her words are staggeringly inappropriate and her disrespect for science and our nation’s chief environmental laws is a danger to public health,” Carper said in a statement.

“Let’s start the new year off with a clean slate and allow President Trump the opportunity to nominate a leader for the Council on Environmental Quality who takes environmental laws and public health protections seriously.”

Under Senate rules, nominees who haven’t been confirmed at the end of a congressional session are returned to the president. Yet it’s common for the Senate to pass a resolution by unanimous consent or voice vote to hold onto those nominees for the following session.

If the Senate doesn’t pass such a measure as this session ends, Trump would have to resubmit all his pending nominees to the upper chamber in 2018.

Andrew Wheeler, for example, nominated for deputy U.S. EPA administrator and approved by the EPW panel, still has not had a Senate floor vote. If Carper makes his move, Wheeler would need to be resubmitted.

Carper said he would object to any unanimous consent agreement that would have Hartnett White held over into the next session.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said she continues to work on arranging a consent agreement to confirm at least some of the eight pending nominees who have cleared her committee before the end of the year. But she acknowledged some of the nominees will “probably” have to be resubmitted in the new year.

Asked about the prospect that Democrats would block pending nominees, Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) replied, “We’ll see how badly they want to go home for Christmas.”

Reporter Geof Koss contributed.