Senate votes to advance Pruitt's nomination to lead the EPA

The U.S. Senate on Feb. 16 voted to advance Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt's nomination to be the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator.

The vote was 54-46.

Procedural rules in the Senate require up to 30 hours of debate before a final vote, which means that Pruitt's nomination vote could be confirmed Feb. 17 if Senate Democrats end up using all that time.

On Feb. 2, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee suspended its rules to avoid a requirement that at least two Democrats take part in a committee vote — then voted to approve the nomination of Pruitt. Only Republicans on the committee voted, as Democrats had boycotted the meeting. The vote was 11-0.

Pruitt, a Republican, has been at the forefront of lawsuits challenging both the EPA's Clean Power Plan and the agency's "Waters of the United States" rule. His selection is seen as a sign that President Trump is determined to undo the Clean Power Plan, the EPA final rule aimed at curbing power plant carbon dioxide emissions.