During the confirmation hearing for Scott Pruitt, President-elect Trump's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Senator Ed Markey asked Pruitt point-blank if he believed climate change was a hoax.
"Donald Trump has called global warming a hoax caused by the Chinese," Markey said. "Do you agree that global warming is a hoax?"
Pruitt replied, "I do not."
"So Donald Trump is wrong?" Markey asked.
"I do not believe climate change is a hoax," Pruitt responded.
Throughout the hearings, Markey has positioned himself as a sharp critic of Trump's nominees, particularly in relation to their views on the environment. But he acknowledges that it will still be difficult for Democrats to block any of their confirmations.
"Let's be honest, GOP, in a modern era stands for 'Gas and Oil Party,'" Markey told Boston Public Radio Thursday.
"To have any of these Republicans who are in the Senate break off from the party of orthodoxy in order to block any of these nominees is not going to be easy," he said.
Markey has said he is particularly concerned about Pruitt, as well as Trump's nominee for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson—former Exxon Mobil CEO—and former Texas Governor Rick Perry for Secretary of Energy.
"This is no longer the party of Teddy Roosevelt. It's no longer even the party of Richard Nixon, who created the E.P.A. in 1970. It's a completely different Republican Party, and we're going to have to fight as hard as we can," Markey said.
Ironically, a rule change implemented by the Democrats themselves in 2013 is making their resistance to Trump's nominees now more difficult. Three years ago, Democrats voted to change Senate rules and lower the threshold for cabinet confirmations and federal judgeships from 60 to 51 votes.
But Markey says all the party can do now is look forward.
"Looking in a rearview mirror really isn't helpful. All we can deal with is what we've got right now, and for the time being at least, we've still got a 60 vote threshold for Supreme Court justices. We'll live with whatever it is we have to deal with right now," Markey said.
To hear more from Senator Ed Markey, tune in to Boston Public Radio above.