Thanks to rule changes under Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid back in 2013, a simple majority is enough for Cabinet confirmation votes. Barring a dramatic turn of events, we expect nearly every nominee to be confirmed, the questions outstanding are: how many Democrats cross over and vote yea, and how many Republicans defect and vote nay. We currently default all Republicans to Yea, barring major public reservations declared by one of them. What about the Senate overall? Where does everyone appear to stand on Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency?
Public declarations make the guesswork a lot simpler, and Mr. Pruitt received a mountain of nays back in December. Protection of the environment remains a signature issue of the Democratic Party, so most of your rank-and-file will likely vote against Scott Pruitt, who made a name for himself by suing the EPA. Some red state Democrats may be more reserved in their judgement: coal state Senator Joe Manchin, for example, or Heidi Heitkamp of oil-rich North Dakota. The former has publicly declared his support for Mr. Pruitt, and the latter’s language describing her meeting with the nominee reads in stark contrast to the press releases issued by Democrats already naying. Mr Pruitt has a leg up on Secretary of Education Nominee Besty DeVos: he has at least one proudly supportive Democrat and a second signalling favorably. We know that some of the names left unknown may be a bit surprising, but until public statements on the nominee are released by Senators like Sherrod Brown or Bill Nelson, we leave them in that status for our estimates.