Pruitt to testify before Senate panel in August

Pruitt to testify before Senate panel in August
© Greg Nash

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOn The Money: New financial disclosures provide glimpse of Trump's wealth | Walmart, Macy's say tariffs will mean price hikes | Consumer agency says Education Department blocking student loan oversight Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs Lawmakers take EPA head to task for refusing to demand Pruitt repay travel expenses MORE is slated to testify in August in front of the main Senate committee that oversees the agency, the panel announced Tuesday.

The committee scheduled the hearing following months of spending and ethics controversies involving Pruitt. Senate Democrats have long sought to put Pruitt in the hot seat over the scandals, and Republicans are expressing increasing concern as well.

“The hearing will give senators the opportunity to ask important questions and hear about the work being done at the agency,” Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTrump boxed in on trade Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations Mike Enzi announces he'll retire from Senate after 2020 MORE (R-Wyo.), the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement Tuesday.

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Barrasso did not specify a date in August for the hearing, and the committee said it will be set later.

A handful of GOP senators on the panel — including Sens. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Trump nominates Shanahan as Pentagon chief | House panel advances bill to block military funds for border wall | Trump defends Bolton despite differences Trump nominates Shanahan as Pentagon chief Iran, Venezuela puts spotlight on Trump adviser John Bolton MORE (Okla.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstBullock: Running for Senate 'never really got me excited' Dem Senate campaign arm hits GOP lawmakers over Trump tax law GOP angst grows amid Trump trade war MORE (Iowa) and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanSenators introduce bill to prevent border agency from selling personal data Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 Republicans defend McCain amid Trump attacks MORE (Alaska) — have pushed in recent days for Pruitt to come before the committee.

It will be Pruitt’s first time at the environment committee since January and his first congressional hearing since May, which preceded a fresh wave of reports raising ethical questions surrounding the EPA chief's actions.

The reports and accusations regarding Pruitt in recent months have included that he rented a condo from a lobbyist for just $50 for each night he spent there, spent $43,000 on a soundproof booth for his office, spent $3.5 million on an unprecedented security detail and had aides or security staff do personal tasks like helping his wife find a job and trying to find a used Trump International Hotel mattress.

Barrasso and other GOP senators have generally stood by Pruitt and have not called for him to resign, arguing that his policy efforts at the EPA are valuable and it would be difficult to confirm a replacement. But their concerns about the allegations against him have grown louder recently.

“I think something needs to happen to change that,” Inhofe said last week on a radio show, referring to the controversies. “One of those alternatives would be for him to leave that job.”

Democrats, meanwhile, have repeatedly called on Pruitt to be fired or resign due to the scandals.

“Mr. Pruitt is an embarrassment. It is a stain on our democracy that he still holds this once esteemed position,” Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs Lawmakers take EPA head to task for refusing to demand Pruitt repay travel expenses Dems request investigation of lobbyist-turned-EPA employee who met with former boss MORE (Del.), the committee’s top Democrat, said earlier this month.

"And it is an abject failure that so many Republicans in Congress have chosen to turn a blind eye to the seemingly endless ethical shortcomings that should have led to Mr. Pruitt’s removal a long time ago.”