Andrew Wheeler has been approved as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the Washington Examiner reported on Tuesday.
His nomination now goes to the full Senate for a vote.
The vote in the committee went along partisan lines, with all 11 Republicans on the panel supporting Wheeler and all 10 Democrats opposing him.
Wheeler has led the EPA on an acting basis since July after former Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned amid several scandals over his misuse of federal funds.
Democrats and environmental groups have criticized Wheeler for his past work as a lobbyist for coal company Murray Energy and slammed him for his support of the Trump administration’s rolling back of regulations they contend are vital to public health and combating climate change, ABC News reported.
Democrats on the committee conceded that Wheeler has implemented the Trump agenda more ethically than Pruitt, but said he has not been the moderating force he promised he would be.
"It brings me no joy to say he has not done what I hoped he would do in number of important respects," the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Tom Carper, told the Examiner. "In many instances he has gone further than his predecessor in his rejection of important measures that are supported by a broad list of environmentalists and industry."
However, Committee Chairman Sen. John Barrasso praised Wheeler, saying he has been an "outstanding" advocate for Trump's deregulatory agenda.
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