The Trump administration has to decide whether to renominate Kathleen Hartnett White, or choose somebody else, to be the top environmental official in the White House after the Senate declined to consider her nomination before the end of Congress’ current session.
Democrats have successfully stalled White’s confirmation, with the Senate returning her nomination to the White House rather than automatically tabling her nomination into 2018 with other pending nominations.
White’s nomination did not receive unanimous consent to remain in the Senate and therefore was sent back to the White House.
President Trump now must decide whether to renominate her, with the confirmation process starting from scratch. That would mean a new vote in the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, which advanced her nomination along a party-line vote in late November. The full Senate did not vote on her nomination.
“This is a standard paperwork practice due to long-established Senate rules, and we will proceed as necessary with renominations in January," White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said Wednesday.
Democrats say White holds views contrary to established science on climate change that make her unfit to lead the Council on Environmental Quality, which coordinates environmental policy at the White House.
Democrats recently celebrated after another Trump nominee, Michael Dourson, the president’s choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s chemical safety division, withdrew under pressure.
“While we have been able to make progress in recent weeks on several qualified and reasonable environmental nominees, others, like Kathleen Hartnett White and Michael Dourson, have proven far too extreme to hold such important positions or be confirmed by the Senate,” said Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee.
“Ms. White’s concerning record, unacceptable statements and shockingly poor performance before the EPW Committee last month have elicited serious concerns on both sides of the aisle and all across the country. I am pleased that Ms. White’s nomination has been returned to the White House, and I am hopeful that President Trump will seize on the opportunity to start the new year and the new session of Congress off on the right foot by nominating a new and better qualified candidate to lead this consequential office," Carper said.
White is former chairwoman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality who last worked at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank that has received funding from Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and other energy companies.
She has said "carbon dioxide is not a pollutant" and once referred to former President Barack Obama's climate change policies as "deluded and illegitimate."
She also has said those who believe in climate change follow a "kind of paganism" for "secular elites.”