Dems ramp up bid to oust Pruitt

Dems ramp up bid to oust Pruitt
© Greg Nash

Senate Democrats are escalating their efforts to oust Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Adminstrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Justices take up major case on water rules | Dems probe administration's dealings with Saudi Arabia | Greens sue EPA over toxic paint strippers Environmental groups sue EPA in bid to ban toxic paint strippers Overnight Energy: EPA to make formal decision on regulating drinking water contaminant | Utility to close coal plant despite Trump plea | Greens say climate is high on 2020 voters’ minds MORE with a formal resolution calling on him to resign or be fired.

Democrats said Wednesday that between his aggressive deregulatory agenda and numerous scandals in recent weeks, Pruitt has no place at the EPA.

The senators plan to introduce in the coming days a “sense of the Senate” resolution calling for Pruitt to be removed.

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“I believe it is time for his imperial tenure to end,” Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallHillicon Valley: House panel takes on election security | DOJ watchdog eyes employee texts | Senate Dems urge regulators to block T-Mobile, Sprint deal | 'Romance scams' cost victims 3M in 2018 Dems urge regulators to reject T-Mobile, Sprint merger Dems wary of killing off filibuster MORE (N.M.), top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee subpanel overseeing the EPA’s budget, told reporters Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

“Not only has Scott Pruitt undermined critical environmental and health protections, he appears to be ignoring basic ethics rules that protect taxpayers from fraud and abuse,” Udall said.

“Scott Pruitt has misused taxpayer dollars while enhancing his own personal perks. He has terrorized staff and he has driven out great institutional knowledge. He has illegally delayed implementation of new and existing law," he continued.

Pruitt has been under fire in recent weeks due to reports that he paid the wife of a prominent energy lobbyist $50 a night for the use of a condo and overspent taxpayer money on a round-the-clock security team and first-class travel. In addition, his deregulatory efforts at the EPA are unpopular with Democrats.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE (D-N.Y.) lent his support to the effort to oust Pruitt.

“On policy, what Scott Pruitt is doing at the EPA is incredibly dangerous for kids’ health and the environment. Decision after decision comes out of his office, making it crystal clear he’s siding with special, powerful interests, over the interests of average Americans,” he said.

“When it comes to the way Pruitt conducts himself as a member of the president’s Cabinet, a few words come to mind to describe him: elitism, corruption, entitlement, hypocrisy, fiscal profligacy.”

Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal The Green New Deal would benefit independent family farmers Juan Williams: America needs radical solutions MORE (D-Mass.) said Pruitt’s leadership of the EPA has been “as toxic as a Superfund site.”

“He has made the EPA stand for Every Polluter’s Ally, and he does that every single day,” Markey continued.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox defended Pruitt, saying he’s made major progress at the agency.

“From advocating to leave the Paris Accord, working to repeal Obama’s Clean Power Plan and [Waters of the United States], declaring a war on lead and cleaning up toxic Superfund sites, Administrator Pruitt is focused on advancing President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE’s agenda of regulatory certainty and environmental stewardship,” Wilcox said in a statement.

House Democrats are expected to introduce a similar resolution soon, led by Rep. Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorDemocrats’ Green New Deal leaves lots of room for improvement Dems downplay divisions over Green New Deal Overnight Energy: Ocasio-Cortez rolls out Green New Deal measure | Pelosi taps members for climate panel | AOC left out | Court reviews order for EPA to ban pesticide MORE (D-Fla.).

Republicans have so far resisted efforts to oust Pruitt, deferring to the White House to investigate.