The Senate voted Thursday to move forward with a vote to confirm Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but one Republican senator said she will oppose his confirmation.
Meanwhile, EPA staff has reportedly been told that the Trump administration is preparing several executive orders that will affect the agency, and that the president would sign the orders after Pruitt is presumably confirmed.
On Thursday, the Senate voted 54-46 in favor of a motion to invoke cloture on Pruitt's nomination to lead EPA. In separate posts to Twitter on Thursday, the Senate Press Gallery said that if all of the time allocated for debate is used, a confirmation vote for Pruitt could be scheduled for 1 p.m. on Friday, while U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said the cloture vote officially started 30 hours of debate before the confirmation vote.
But in a statement Wednesday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said she would not be voting in favor of Pruitt's confirmation.
"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," Collins said. "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."
On Wednesday, Reuters reported that two unidentified EPA staff members had been told by a senior official at the agency that several executive orders affecting EPA were forthcoming. According to the report, the senior EPA official had attended a staff meeting at the agency's Office of General Counsel on Tuesday, where the executive orders were mentioned. There were no details provided over what the executive orders would say.