The Senate has voted to confirm Andrew Wheeler as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a 52-47 mostly party-line vote. Wheeler has led the EPA in an active capacity since former Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned on the heels of ethics controversies in July. He will be the agency’s second leader under President Trump. Trump nominatedWheeler to take over the role of EPA administrator in early January. Responding to his confirmation, Wheeler tweeted Thursday that he was “humbled.”
“It is truly humbling to serve the American public as EPA Administrator. I want to thank President Trump for nominating me and Leader McConnell and [Senate Natural Resources Committee] Chairman [John] Barrasso for navigating my confirmation through the Senate,” Wheeler wrote. “I am deeply honored, and I look forward to continuing the President’s agenda and the work of the Agency alongside all my EPA colleagues.”
Every Democrat voted against Wheeler, while Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) was the only Republican to vote against him. Collins in a statement Wednesday said she would not vote for Wheeler, a former energy lobbyist, because of his track record backing policies that weaken rules protecting air pollution and lowering car emissions. “While Mr. Wheeler is certainly qualified for this position, I have too many concerns with the actions he has taken during his tenure as Acting Administrator to be able to support his promotion,” said Collins, who had backed confirming Wheeler last year to be EPA’s deputy administrator.
Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), the only Democrat who voted to confirm Wheeler as EPA’s deputy administrator, voted against him on Thursday. He cited Wheeler’s failure to make progress on clean drinking water standards, among other issues. “When I voted to confirm Mr. Wheeler to be Deputy Administrator of the EPA, I did so because I thought the President deserved to have his team in place. I also believed that I could work with Mr. Wheeler,” Manchin said in a statement.
“Today, I voted against him to be the permanent Administrator of the EPA because as Acting Administrator, he hasn’t demonstrated a desire or a will to make any meaningful progress on clean drinking water standards and has rolled back clean air standards that are directly impacting West Virginians, both concerns that I have raised with him.”