GOP Congressman Highlights Scott Pruitt for Stopping Obama's 'Radical Clean Air Policies'

Later in the day, Pruitt testified before another congressional panel, the House Appropriations subcommittee on interior, environment, and related agencies, where he also was grilled on his spending habits.

Lance said former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, who served under President George W. Bush, told him that she did not see a need for an enhanced communications system in her private office during her tenure at the agency.

As the Democratic drumbeat intensifies for his ouster, the EPA Administrator faced questions on a litany ofalleged ethical and spending missteps, including the awarding of pay raises to top aides, luxury travel accommodations, his below-market rental agreement with the wife of an energy lobbyist, and the installation of asecure phone booth. "And a lie doesn't become true just because it appears on the front page page of a newspaper".

Pruitt cast aside the controversies as "a distraction to our agenda", and called them "half truths, or, at best, stories that are so twisted they do not represent reality". Several called for him to resign.

Rep. Paul Tonko, a New York Democrat, questioned on Pruitt on his knowledge of the raises, which were given to two aides Pruitt brought to Washington from Oklahoma. "You have failed as a steward of American taxpayer dollars, and our environment".

Pruitt maintained during the hearings in the House Energy and Commerce and House Appropriations committees, which were meant to discuss the EPA's budget requests, that numerous allegations against him have been made by people opposed to his agenda, and he dodged questions about which instances of questionable spending by his office he knew about beforehand. "I'm not aware of that ever happening", Pruitt said.

"I'm not doing this to hassle you. I think that's a failure in leadership".

Pruitt also is likely to face questions about reports that he lived in a bargain-priced condominium linked to a lobbyist whose firm's clients have business before EPA. "At this point, we must ask if the inspector general will have the resources needed to investigate the administrator's seemingly endless misconduct".

The GAO this month said the EPA violated the law by installing the soundproof booth without telling lawmakers first.

"The more anyone tells him to ditch Scott Pruitt, the more he wants to fight them", the official tells TIME. Tony Cardenas, a California Democrat. How many taxpayer-funded trips home to Oklahoma or elsewhere were justified on the basis of a single hurriedly scheduled meeting?

But Republican House members on the committees grilling Pruitt were quick to defend the EPA head. The document defends his use of first-class travel, enhanced security, a low-priced room he rented from a lobbyist and his use of four email addresses.

For about six months past year, Pruitt rented a room for $50 a night from the wife of an energy lobbyist.

"I want to give him every chance", Inhofe said Wednesday when asked by ABC News about Pruitt. Documents later showed Pruitt's chief of staff signed off on the pay increases, indicating he had the administrator's consent. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said with a laugh. I'm not afraid to admit that there has been a learning process.

Pruitt pushed back against some specific reports. Despite the fact that Trump's first budget ordered the EPA's budget slashed by 24 percent and staffing levels cut by 20 percent, Pruitt's twenty person team is three times as large as previous administrators, according to a separate Times article.

Welch signed onto a a resolution last week calling for Pruitt to step down.

Representative David McKinley, a Republican from West Virginia, said Pruitt was the target of a "classic display of innuendo and McCarthyism that we're seeing too often here in Washington".

Republican Gregg Harper of MS decried what he saw as the "political bloodsport" of going after Trump administration officials.

Pruitt said there is no plan "at present" to revoke California's waiver to set stricter air quality standards than those of the federal government if the EPA blows up a 2011 agreement that unified emissions standards. And I corrected the action.

  • Tracy Klein