Gowdy presses EPA chief for answers on his first-class travel

Gowdy presses EPA chief for answers on his first-class travel
© Greg Nash

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyMore than two dozen former prosecutors, judges, active trial lawyers support DOJ decision to dismiss Michael Flynn case Sunday shows preview: As states loosen social distancing restrictions, lawmakers address dwindling state budgets John Ratcliffe is the right choice for director of national intelligence — and for America MORE (R-S.C.) is requesting detailed answers from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA ordered to reconsider New York efforts to tame downwind pollution OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA declines to tighten smog standards amid pressure from green groups | Democrats split on Trump plan to use development funds for nuclear projects| Russian mining giant reports another fuel spill in Arctic EPA declines to tighten smog standards amid pressure from green groups MORE over his consistent use of first- and business-class travel on government-funded trips.

In a letter addressed to Pruitt on Tuesday, the Republican congressman points out concerns over the EPA chief's reported use of a "blanket waiver" to fly first class, a method he calls prohibited.

"Clearly, federal regulations prohibit a blanket waiver to fly first class except to accommodate disabilities or special needs. Instead, a waiver for each flight is required in order to fly first or business class when traveling on official government business," Gowdy wrote.

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Gowdy also requested details on all air travel that Pruitt has taken since being sworn in as President TrumpDonald John TrumpProgressive group launches M pro-Biden ad buy targeting young voters Ilhan Omar: GOP response to calls for police reform 'was vicious' White House considers sweeping travel ban on members, families of the Chinese Communist Party: report MORE's EPA chief last year, asking Pruitt to detail flight destinations, costs, travel companions — including security detail — and the official reason for his travel.

The Oversight chairman additionally asked Pruitt to provide all documentation of individual or blanket waivers he received for his travel. 

Gowdy requested all of the details be provided to the committee by March 6.

The EPA did not return The Hill's request for comment.

Gowdy announced late last month that he would retire from Congress, becoming the latest GOP chairman to opt not to seek reelection. The surprise announcement came months after he took over the helm of the Oversight panel.

The South Carolina Republican, who is perhaps best known for overseeing the House Intelligence Committee investigating former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton Ilhan Omar: GOP response to calls for police reform 'was vicious' Maine poised to allow ranked voting for president after state ruling Trump ad ties Biden to defund police effort, warns Americans 'won't be safe' MORE's handling of the Benghazi attacks, said he would return to working in the justice system.

Pruitt has made headlines in the past few months over news that he primarily uses first class and business class when flying, including on short destination flights such as between Washington, D.C., and New York City.

Last week, EPA spokesperson Jahan Wilcox told The Hill that Pruitt used a "blanket waiver" that allowed him to fly first class. He later amended the statement to Politico, saying the EPA submitted a waiver for Pruitt on every trip.

The law stipulates that government employees must fly coach unless they are granted a specific waiver.