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 PruittNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Chaotic Trump transition leaks: Debates must tackle how Democrats will govern differently The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump targets Iran with new sanctions 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 proposal nixes review of long-term climate impacts Bipartisan senators propose forcing EPA to set drinking water standard for 'forever chemicals' Trump hails D-Day veterans in Normandy: 'You are the pride of our nation' 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 InhofeSenate set to bypass Iran fight amid growing tensions This week: Congress set for clash on Trump's border request Trump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions MORE (Okla.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGOP frets about Trump's poll numbers GOP senators caught off guard by Shanahan withdrawal Democrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate MORE (Iowa) and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanSenators weigh potential security risks from Chinese-made drones August recess under threat as yearly spending bills pile up Overnight Health Care: Liberals rip Democratic leaders for writing drug pricing bill in secret | Dems demand answers from company that shelters migrant kids | Measles cases top 1,000 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 CarperSenate investigation finds multiple federal agencies left sensitive data vulnerable to cyberattacks for past decade Senate set to bypass Iran fight amid growing tensions The '90-10 rule' in higher education is a target on veterans' backs 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.”