Embattled EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Testifies on Capitol Hill

Scott Pruitt
(Photo: Scott Pruitt testifies on April 26. Credit: C-SPAN via YouTube)

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt testified before two House panels about spending and management decisions. The EPA administrator responded to questions about security measures, travel expenses, and raises to two staffers.

He spoke to members of the House Energy and Commerce environment subcommittee on Thursday morning, and testified before a House Appropriations subcommittee in the afternoon. Over the course of nearly six hours, Pruitt gave little ground, the Washington Post’s Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin reported.

“Bolstered by Republican lawmakers, who praised his push to unravel Obama-era regulations and cut the agency’s workforce, Pruitt suggested that the censure he’s faced in recent months stems largely from opponents who want to stall President Trump’s environmental policies,” they wrote. “Pruitt repeatedly faulted staff for spending decisions that have drawn intense heat and denied that he had reassigned or demoted anyone who questioned those expenditures.”

Earlier this month, Republican congressman Carlos Curbelo and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) joined other members of Congress pushing for Pruitt to resign. Environmental groups including the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Natural Resources Defense Council signed onto a nationwide campaign called Boot Pruitt. They are calling for Pruitt’s resignation, saying that he is “threatening our health, wasting taxpayer dollars on luxury travel, and is under investigations for his actions.”

During Pruitt’s testimony on Capitol Hill, several Democrats questioning him urged him to resign. “You are unfit to hold public office, and you are undeserving of the public trust,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ), the Energy and Commerce’s top Democrat said, according to the Washington Post.

Republicans held their fire for the most part, although Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee told journalists afterward that some of Pruitt’s answers to questions were “a little vague,” Washington Examiner’s Josh Siegel reported. “It’s never a good idea to blame your staff,” Shimkus said.

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