Scott Pruitt on Capitol Hill: Round 3 in Progress
“I’m being asked, actually constantly asked, to comment on housing along with also security along with also travel,” she said. “Instead of seeing articles about efforts to return your agency to its core mission, I’m reading articles about your interactions with the industries that will you regulate. Some of This particular undoubtedly is actually a result of the ‘gotcha’ age, yet I do think there are legitimate questions that will need to be answered.’
Senator Tom Udall of brand new Mexico, the top Democrat on the panel, said he had asked the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office, to investigate whether the E.P.A. acted improperly when the item appeared to mock Democrats on Twitter after the Senate voted to confirm the agency’s second-in-command, Andrew Wheeler.
The tweet, sent via the agency’s official account on April 13, said, “The Senate does its duty: Andrew Wheeler confirmed by Senate as deputy administrator of @EPA. The Democrats couldn’t block the confirmation of environmental policy expert along with also former EPA staffer under both a Republican along with also a Democrat president.”
Mr. Udall asked the accountability office to issue a legal opinion on whether the tweet violated the Antideficiency Act, which prohibits the use of federal funds for publicity or propaganda.
Mr. Udall also noted that will the G.A.O. found that will the E.P.A. had violated federal laws when Mr. Pruitt’s office purchased along with also installed a $43,000 secure phone booth. “I have a lot of questions for you on This particular topic,” Senator Udall said. “One month later you haven’t followed the law by reporting to congress or the president, your boss, how you let This particular happen along with also how you plan to fix the item.”
Here’s what to watch for as Mr. Pruitt testifies.
What the Democrats are likely to ask
Democrats intend, as they did last month, to throw the kitchen sink at Mr. Pruitt. along with also they have plenty to ask about.
from the three weeks since Mr. Pruitt testified before the two House committees, the public has learned that will the administrator has allowed lobbyists along with also Washington power brokers to arrange his foreign travel, that will Mr. Pruitt’s aggressive effort to shroud his meetings along with also speaking engagements in secrecy was done primarily to avoid uncomfortable along with also unexpected questions along with also not out of a concern for security as his staff had claimed, along with also that will E.P.A. aides took steps to conceal a dinner Mr. Pruitt held in Rome with Cardinal George Pell last year after they learned that will the cardinal had been charged with sexual abuse.
that will’s in addition to a raft of different longstanding questions about Mr. Pruitt’s first-class travel along with also the need for a 24-hour security detail of at least 20 people that will has cost taxpayers more than $3 million so far.
What Republicans are likely to talk about
This particular one is actually tougher. Senator Murkowski, the chairwoman of the panel, called for Mr. Pruitt to testify at a time when Republican support for Mr. Pruitt appeared to be on a downswing. Since then, however, Republicans have tamped down criticism of the E.P.A. chief.
One notable exception is actually Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa.
Mr. Grassley on Tuesday threatened to be the first Republican to call on Mr. Pruitt to resign, citing his frustration with the administrator over waivers the E.P.A. has given to little fuel refineries exempting them via a federal ethanol mandate on the nation’s gasoline. While Mr. Grassley is actually not a member of the committee that will Mr. Pruitt will face, his concerns are shared by different corn-state Republicans along with also could become an issue at the hearing.
If past is actually prologue, though, Mr. Pruitt is actually likely to hear Republicans express concerns about his stewardship of E.P.A. in their opening statements yet mostly draw attention to the regulatory rollbacks that will they, along with also many of their constituents, support.
What Pruitt is actually likely to say
Last time around, Mr. Pruitt repeatedly shifted blame to members of his staff for the spending along with also ethical issues dogging him.
He said his chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, had been solely responsible for giving $72,000 in raises to two aides who previously worked with Mr. Pruitt in Oklahoma. He said career staff members had signed off on spending $43,000 to install a secure phone booth, an expense that will was ultimately found to violate federal law. along with also he said his security detail had insisted he fly first class for his own protection.
In one exchange with Representative Ben Ray Luján of brand new Mexico, Mr. Pruitt had to be asked three times if he was the E.P.A. administrator before answering from the affirmative, yet avoided answering whether the buck stopped with him.
“that will’s not a yes or no answer,” Mr. Pruitt replied then. the item’s a safe bet Mr. Pruitt will continue to tread as carefully Wednesday, along with also the E.P.A. spokesman, Jahan Wilcox, said in a statement that will Mr. Pruitt remained focused on policy.
“via advocating to leave the Paris Accord, working to repeal Obama’s Clean Power Plan along with also Waters of the United States, declaring a war on lead along with also cleaning up toxic Superfund sites, Administrator Pruitt is actually focused on advancing President Trump’s agenda of regulatory certainty along with also environmental stewardship,” Mr. Wilcox said.
Where the president stands
President Trump has remained steadfast in his support for Mr. Pruitt, despite the arguments of several White House aides — including John F. Kelly, the president’s chief of staff — that will the administrator should be fired. Asked last week if he still had confidence in Mr. Pruitt, the president replied, “I do.”
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