With a weeklong President’s Day recess looming, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will be hoping to move one more confirmation, Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency, before senators head back to their home states. As they have for other controversial nominees, Democrats kept the chamber in session overnight, arguing that the Oklahoma Attorney General’s lawsuits against the EPA disqualified him from leading the nation’s primary environmental watchdog. While Republican Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is expected to vote against Pruitt, Democrats are set to see defections from their ranks in Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), who are both up for re-election in 2018 in states that Trump overwhelmingly won in last year’s election. After Pruitt, the next nominee that Leader McConnell has teed up for floor consideration is billionaire businessman Wilbur Ross to lead the Department of Commerce.
The White House also made waves yesterday in announcing a new nominee to head the Labor Department – former National Labor Relations Board member Alexander Acosta – followed by a press conference with President Trump. In a longer-than-usual session, the President touched on Republican plans to overhaul both the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and tax code, saying that he aimed for the ACA repeal bill to hit Congress next month. Following the release of a health care plan yesterday, Republican leaders are reportedly aiming to begin marking up legislation soon after next week’s recess.
The House has finished its legislative business for the week, with only a pro forma session today before next week’s break. Watch for lawmakers’ in-district town halls to generate headlines next week as liberal activists try to flood the events in an effort to preserve the ACA and speak out against some of President Trump’s more controversial executive orders.