Sen. Claire McCaskill said she could not attend a meeting with President Donald Trump with other Democrats on Thursday, but she said the White House would arrange a phone call in the near future.
The Republican president met with four Democratic senators up for re-election in red states in 2018 as the White House looks to gain support for Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who will face a tough re-election fight in 2018, was meeting with members of the Missouri National Education Association during the White House meeting, according to her office.
Asked if she had any concerns she’d like to share with the president in their upcoming phone call, McCaskill quipped, “There’s a long list, but I don’t know that he’d have time for me to cover that waterfront in one call.”
McCaskill, who has backed five of Trump’s Cabinet nominees and opposed three, said that she was reviewing the president’s nominees on their individual merits. She made it clear that she will vote against Trump’s picks to head the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services.
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In a phone call with reporters, she compared Trump’s nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA to “hiring an arsonist to put out the fire.”
Pruitt, who has been labeled a climate change denier in the past, has a history of suing the agency he’s been tapped to lead to block new regulations.
McCaskill similarly said that Rep. Tom Price, a Georgia Republican, has spent his career trying to dismantle Medicare and that she could not vote for him to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.
McCaskill met with Gorsuch on Wednesday and she said he made it clear he was upset with Trump’s attacks on the judiciary. She did not give any indication on whether she would vote to confirm the federal appeals judge to the high court.
Bryan Lowry: 816-234-4077, @BryanLowry3