Protesters disrupt EPA confirmation hearing, held despite shutdown

The group objected to the activating of furloughed staff to help the acting administrator prepare for the hearing

Demonstrators were removed from the confirmation hearing for Andrew Wheeler, President Trump’s pick to lead the EPA. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two demonstrators were removed Wednesday morning from the confirmation hearing of Andrew Wheeler —President Trump’s pick to lead the EPA.

Protesters in the hallway and hearing room objected to the business in front of the Environment and Public Works Committee, because the EPA remains closed as part of the partial government shutdown. The group of over a dozen protesters included people representing Code Pink and The Moms Clean Air Force, some with strollers and their children in tow.

“Shut down Wheeler, not the EPA,” read signs held by the protesters.

Watch: Protesters interrupt confirmation hearing on Trump's EPA pick

The EPA activated furloughed staff to help acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler prepare for his confirmation hearing. Democrats on the panel wrote to the EPA Jan. 10 saying the decision could violate the agency’s shutdown contingency plan and the Antideficiency Act.

That law prohibits federal agencies from carrying out operations or spending federal funds beyond the amount made available through congressional appropriations, except in the case of emergencies, according to the Government Accountability Office.

“I really must object to this hearing happening during a government shutdown!” a protester yelled in the committee room, standing up just as Wheeler began giving his opening remarks. Wheeler stopped speaking as the protesters chanted.

The two protesters were removed by Capitol Police. Other demonstrators gathered in the hallway outside the hearing room and chanted, “shut down Wheeler, not the EPA.”

Elvina Nawaguna contributed to this story.

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