Here’s what’s happening in Washington on Thursday
WASHINGTON — Republicans on Capitol Hill continue to work around Democrats in an effort to confirm President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominations. President Trump also joked about TV ratings at the annual National Prayer Breakfast.
Here’s everything you might have missed that’s happening in Washington on Thursday:
Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, advanced to the full Senate for a confirmation vote after Republicans suspended committee rules and Senate Democrats continued to boycott his nomination.
The vote was unanimous in favor of Pruitt, 11-0.
“It’s disappointing that they chose that course of action but we will not allow it to obstruct,” the Environmental Public Works Committee Chairman Sen. John Barrasso said.
The Oklahoma attorney general was tapped by President Trump in December and is vocally critical of the agency’s regulations — having sued the EPA for its regulations over power plants.
Pruitt is also on record denying climate change — he wrote in the National Review that “the debate is far from settled.”
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee also voted to advance Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-South Carolina, to the Senate for a full vote.
Mulvaney is vying to head the Office of Management and Budget.
“I believe that Congressman Mulvaney is dedicated to restoring fiscal discipline to the federal government and reducing the tremendous burden that regulations place on American families. I look forward to voting for his confirmation on the Senate floor,” Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson said in a statement issued by the committee.
President Trump spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast — an annual gathering of politicians and religious leaders.
But the President went a bit off script.
President Trump began criticizing the remake of his show “The Apprentice,” which is now hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“The ratings went right down the tubes. It has been a disaster,” President Trump said about Schwarzenegger taking the reins.
President Trump continued: “I want to just pray for Arnold … for those ratings.”
But the comments weren’t left unnoticed by the new host. Schwarzenegger replied in a video on Twitter.
“Hey Donald. I have a great idea. Why don’t we switch jobs? You take over TV, cause you’re such an expert in ratings. And I take over your job, so that people can finally sleep comfortably again,” Schwarzenegger said.
Thursday morning, his first day on the job, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke to State Department employees.
There, he noted the divisive 2016 campaign, but encouraged State workers to not allow it to interfere with the goals of the Department.
“I know this was a hotly contested election and we do not all feel the same way about the outcome,” the former ExxonMobil CEO said, “but we cannot let our personal convictions overwhelm our ability to work as one team.”
Tillerson was sworn in as secretary of state on Wednesday evening after being confirmed in the Senate on Wednesday afternoon.
McCain’s ‘unwavering support’ for Australia
Sen. John McCain said in a statement that he called Australia’s ambassador to the US after reports that President Trump’s call with the Australian prime minister got heated.
“In short, Australia is one of America’s oldest friends and staunchest allies. We are united by ties of family and friendship, mutual interests and common values, and shared sacrifice in wartime.
“In that spirit, I called Australia’s Ambassador to the United States this morning to express my unwavering support for the U.S.-Australia alliance,” McCain said in the statement.
President Trump also tweeted Wednesday night about a deal made between the Obama administration and Australia that has the US accept additional refugees, calling the agreement a “dumb deal.”