By Timothy Cama - 03/26/14 01:41 PM EDT
Senate Republicans used a Wednesday hearing about the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget to criticize EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyThe Clean Water Rule: One year later How Congress got to yes on toxic chemical reform Overnight Energy: Labor rift opens over green mega-donor MORE over the agency’s handling of former employee and fake CIA agent John Beale.
Sen. David VitterDavid VitterOvernight Energy: Trump outlines 'America First' energy plan in North Dakota Paul blocks chemical safety bill in Senate House Republican pushes bill to 'curb regulatory overreach' MORE (La.), the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, said the agency took too long to cancel bonuses that Beale was receiving and that put him over the legal salary limit.
“We now know that EPA dithered for years rather than take action against a fake CIA agent who stole over $1 million of taxpayer money,” Vitter said.
But Republicans on the panel sought to use Beale’s case to demonstrate major problems with EPA.
“I do think this case represents a very broken bureaucracy, long term, that it’s not an isolated incident,” Vitter said.
Sen. Mike CrapoMike CrapoOvernight Finance: Path clears for Puerto Rico bill | GOP senator casts doubt on IRS impeachment | Senate approves .1B for Zika Senate passes broad spending bill with .1B in Zika funds Housing groups argue Freddie Mac's loss should spur finance reform MORE (R-Idaho) questioned the regulations that Beale helped to write. A recent report by the EPW Republicans alleged that, as a top official in EPA’s office that regulates air quality, Beale had a key role in writing particulate matter and ozone standards that have proven costly for coal power plants.
“It seems difficult to conclude that any of Mr. Beale’s work on the many issues under his responsibility at the EPA can be taken at face value,” Crapo said. “As such I would like to take this opportunity to call for a robust review of all rulemakings and regulatory actions connected with his service at EPA.”
EPW Chairwoman Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerFight over California drought heats up in Congress Dems see political gold in fight over Trump's taxes Latinos key in Democratic battle for California delegates MORE (D-Calif.) defended the agency and McCarthy.
“There’s this attempt now to blame all the clean air regulations on this rogue employee who’s now in jail. Is it not true that any kind of proposed rule goes through public comment, peer review, interagency review and subjected to judicial review,” Boxer asked, and McCarthy agreed.
“He is in no way indicative of employees at EPA,” McCarthy said. “They are hard-working, professional, dedicated public servants.”
McCarthy, who was Beale’s direct supervisor before she became administrator, also defended her own actions. She was notified of his illegal bonuses in early 2011, but the bonuses weren’t canceled until 2013.
“It took a while to get to the bottom of the John Beale issue, because he was a criminal that systemically intended to defraud the agency. But the good news is that he is in federal prison right now,” she said.