Senators grill EPA’s Scott Pruitt on spending, safety (News)

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The questioning was notably extra aggressive than throughout appearances Pruitt made earlier than Home subcommittees final month, throughout which the Republican chairman repeatedly reduce off Democrats the second their restricted time expired and allowed Pruitt to not reply.

In distinction, Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski of Alaska gave the Democrats freedom to press Pruitt and ask prosecutor-style follow-up questions when Pruitt, a lawyer who beforehand served as Oklahoma’s state legal professional basic, sought to deflect or give non-specific solutions.

Murkowski set the tone from the beginning, opening the listening to by expressing concern that allegations over Pruitt’s missteps are overshadowing the Trump administration’s pro-business regulatory rollbacks.

“I am being requested, actually continually requested, to touch upon safety and on housing and on journey. I am studying about your interactions with representatives of the industries that you simply regulate” Murkowski advised Pruitt at a listening to usually anticipated to concentrate on funds issues.

Udall, a lawyer who like Pruitt beforehand served because the legal professional basic of his residence state, led the cost for the Democrats. He started by citing the Authorities Accountability Workplace’s latest discovering that EPA’s buy of a $43,000 personal workplace sales space for phone calls broke federal legislation as a result of the company didn’t notify Congress prematurely of an expenditure exceeding a $5,000 cap on spending for workplace renovations.

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Udall accused Pruitt of constant to flout authorized necessities to tell lawmakers about that and different big-ticket spending, and “treating your place of public belief as a golden ticket for extravagant journey and advantageous eating.”

EPA’s inspector basic revealed earlier this week that Pruitt requested and obtained 24-hour safety starting his first day in workplace. That challenges Pruitt’s account that the round the clock safety was a results of threats in opposition to him after taking workplace.

On Wednesday, Pruitt repeatedly dodged instantly answering whether or not he requested the stepped-up safety protection, saying profession EPA officers under him made the ultimate resolution.

Pruitt’s preoccupation together with his security got here at a steep value to taxpayers, as his swollen safety element blew via extra time budgets and at occasions diverted officers away from investigating environmental crimes. Altogether, the company has spent about $three million on Pruitt’s 20-member full-time safety element, which is greater than 3 times the scale of his predecessor’s part-time safety contingent.

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Regardless of the mounting investigations into Pruitt’s actions, President Donald Trump has stated he nonetheless helps his EPA chief. Requested Friday if he nonetheless had confidence in Pruitt, Trump advised reporters, “I do.”

Perrotta, who wrote the e-mail about the usage of lights and sirens, additionally drafted a memo final yr saying Pruitt wanted to fly in premium class seats due to safety threats. The safety chief not too long ago took early retirement from EPA amid questions on whether or not he improperly really useful a enterprise companion for a authorities contract and outdoors work he carried out as a non-public investigator for a tabloid newspaper.

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Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont advised Pruitt he was a strolling instance of “ego run amok,” calling him a humiliation to the company he leads. The senior senator referred to as “foolish” Pruitt’s claims he wanted to fly in top quality after disagreeable interactions with different vacationers.

“No one even is aware of who you’re,” Leahy advised Pruitt, who sat stone confronted earlier than him. “We wish environmental protections that work. Neglect about your individual ego and your top quality journey and your particular cellphone cubicles that simply make you a laughingstock and your company a laughingstock.”

As Pruitt left the listening to room, protesters trailed him via the halls of the Senate workplace constructing shouting “Mr. Pruitt, you have to be fired!” and “You have to be ashamed, Mr. Pruitt.”

The EPA chief, ringed by his aides and safety personnel, appeared to disregard them. He briskly made his means out to a ready black SUV with tinted home windows earlier than driving away.

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