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 PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas 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 UdallSenate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh Trump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Senate Dems want DOJ review of Giuliani's work for foreign entities 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 SchumerTrump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump slams Sessions in exclusive Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation 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 MarkeyOvernight Defense: Mattis dismisses talk he may be leaving | Polish president floats 'Fort Trump' | Dem bill would ban low-yield nukes Dems introduce bill to ban low-yield nukes Some employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report 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 rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada 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 CastorBipartisan leaders of House panel press drug companies on opioid crisis Overnight Health Care: Trump officials explore importing prescription drugs | Key ObamaCare, drug pricing regs under review | GOP looks to blunt attacks on rising premiums | Merck to lower some drug prices House Dems want answers on cuts to ObamaCare outreach groups MORE (D-Fla.).

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