A judge in Oklahoma has ordered that thousands of letters between EPA nominee Scott Pruitt and fossil fuel companies, letters long hidden by Pruitt’s office, be made public starting next Tuesday. The Senate is in recess next week, so delaying the Friday vote on Pruitt until the following Monday would literally take nothing from the Senate’s calendar.
But it’s not going to happen. Republicans are pushing Pruitt’s vote through on Friday, so that it can be held before any of the letters are available.
In the Senate chamber on Friday morning, Sen. Jeff Merkley rose to request that the vote be delayed until all the letters were released. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made sure he was present in the nearly empty Senate chamber, and the Kentucky Republican objected to the request.
Sen. Merkley then asked to move the vote to the next morning that the Senate is in session. Literally the only difference this would make would be allowing senators to see some of the letters from Pruitt’s time as Oklahoma attorney general before they vote. McConnell objected.
Finally, Sen. Merkley made a motion that the length of time for debate on the nomination be extended by enough hours that it would move the vote to the Monday when the Senate returns. McConnell objected again, and followed with a speech about Democrats “unprecedented back to George Washington” delay of Trump’s “well qualified” cabinet nominees. McConnell also engaged in an extended sneer on the subject of how Democrats were debating pointlessly, since they knew Republicans would give Trump his nominees without question, and should just roll over and forget it.
The motion for extending debate demands a vote, which will be held just before the vote on Pruitt. That odds of that vote passing are negligible.
It’s frustrating. It’s unfair and damn near unbelievable. But it’s literally the most that Democrats can do. So long as they’re not troubled with anything like the concept of fairness, justice, or concern for the nation, Republicans are in a position to drive over all objections—full speed ahead.