Glenn Youngkin appears ready to find a replacement. This was a Thursday statement by a senior senator.
According to Sen. Emmett hanger, he spoke with Youngkin about the matter Wednesday night. He said that he didn't see a way forward for Wheeler to be confirmed as secretary of natural resources and historic resources.
"What he indicated was... we'll look at -- probably at an future time -- with replacement. Hanger, a moderate Republican who represents a Shenandoah Valley Senate seat since 1996, said that he didn't feel any urgency.
Macaulay Porter, spokesperson for Youngkin, stated in a statement that Wheeler's nomination is still possible if the Senate reconsiders its party-line vote from earlier this week.
She stated that Secretary Wheeler would continue to serve Virginians in the interim as Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources.
Former coal lobbyist, Wheeler was a U.S. Senate staffer. He managed the EPA during the last part of President Donald Trump’s administration. This included rollbacksof environmental safeguards implemented by former President Barack Obama, including restrictionson power plants that are coal-fired.
His selection for the Cabinet position provoked a backlash by Democrats, environmental groups, and many career EPA employees. a letter described Wheeler's leadership style as "extremist" because it deferred to corporate polluters.
Some of Wheeler’s former colleagues have defended him and lawmakers from both sides have acknowledged his knowledgeability.
Hanger stated that the governor was disappointed in the Senate vote during their dinner.
Hanger described Youngkin as a positive person. He thought that if he spoke to a few people, they'd understand that Youngkin was a great man and could do the job. That didn't happen. According to me, and the conversation that we had, I believe he is ready to move on.
Hanger stated that the governor didn't name any replacement candidates.
Wheeler could continue to serve in this role even if Youngkin were to submit a new nominee for the position. Wheeler can continue in the role of administration in other capacities, even if Youngkin submits a nominee for the position.
Youngkin's press office advised that he would be having dinner with Hanger at Executive Mansion on Wednesday night. Hanger stated that they also discussed the governor’s tax agenda.
Youngkin ran on a wide range of tax cuts. He argued that record state revenues were due to excessive taxes that should be returned home to Virginians. Some of the legislation that Youngkin is seeking to pass, like the elimination of the grocery taxes, have been met with bipartisan opposition by lawmakers, Hanger included.
Hanger, a member the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, said that it remains to be seen if a deal can be reached this year on that proposal.