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Democrats use emergency court action to slow Pruitt confirmation

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Federal court will hold a hearing Thursday about a two-year-old request to release Scott Pruitt's emails. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Democrats are using a court order in the hopes of blocking a floor vote later this week on President Trump's pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

Top Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Tuesday urging him to postpone the vote based on a federal court order scheduling an emergency hearing on requests made two years ago to release emails from Pruitt's office.

"For more than two years, requests for access to Mr. Pruitt's email communications with oil and gas industry officials during his tenure as attorney general have not been granted," the letter said. "However, recent action in the Oklahoma District Court has resulted in the court scheduling an emergency hearing to review the requests this week."

The emergency hearing, scheduled for Thursday, will include information that Democrats on the environment committee requested from Pruitt, but that he "refused to provide," the Democrats said.

McConnell is scheduling a vote on Pruitt for this week following votes on Trump's picks to lead the Interior and Energy departments, Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., and former Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry, respectively.

"Granting this request – to schedule consideration of Mr. Pruitt's nomination at a time that permits Senators to receive and review the information we previously requested – is compelled, in our view, by the Senate's obligation to provide advice and consent on Mr. Pruitt's nomination," the Democrats' letter read.

"These records are needed for the Senate to evaluate Mr. Pruitt's suitability to serve in the position for which he has been nominated."