Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is facing tough questions from Congress this week as he has two appearances on the Hill on his schedule. First up for Pruitt was a session with the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee Thursday morning and despite numerous controversies swirling around him, the EPA head defended his decisions and insisted that the "attacks" against him are coming from efforts to derail President Donald Trump's agenda.
The Washington Post details that Scott Pruitt is adamant that he will not let the attacks coming from "policy critics" negatively impact Trump's presidency. As the New York Times notes, the EPA administrator also insists that he doesn't have anything to hide. Pruitt defended the actions he's taken thus far, claiming that the EPA under his leadership has been axing "burdensome costs" from the economy at an "unprecedented pace." In addition, he insinuated that many of the critiques against him are false.
During his session in front of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, Pruitt received tough questions from many Democrats, but relatively supportive inquiries from Republicans. Republican Texas Rep. Joe Barton noted that the EPA head wasn't the "first victim" of the politics of Washington and West Virginia Rep. David McKinley inferred that the current situation regarding the plethora of criticisms against Pruitt echoes McCarthyism.While the Republican committee members may have held back, New Jersey's Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. and his fellow Democrats did not. When asked about reports that numerous EPA employees have been demoted or sidelined after disagreeing with his decisions, Pruitt said he didn't recall any conversations on the topic. As Pallone indicated that he would take that answer as a yes, that multiple employees had faced career setbacks for disagreeing with the agency head, Pruitt pushed back and said that wasn't the case.
Pallone went on to declare that he believed Pruitt was "unfit to hold public office" and that he was undeserving of receiving the public's trust. Despite the growing list of allegations related to ethics and spending misconduct against him, Pruitt seemingly continues to have President Trump's support.
Bloomberg notes that this is the EPA chief's first appearance on Capitol Hill since many of these alleged scandals surfaced. So far, Pruitt has been consistent in deflecting responsibility for any wrongdoing and maintaining that the controversies are a twisted distraction intended to "undermine this administration's priorities."
Pruitt is slated to appear before a House Appropriations subcommittee Thursday afternoon and the administrator will be asked not only about EPA budgetary issues, but about the multiple controversies involving him as well. These range from questions regarding the soundproof booth he had installed in his office and high travel costs to the townhouse rental he had in his early Washington D.C. days and newer issues regarding an Oklahoma real estate deal that has raised some questions.
While President Donald Trump has, so far, remained supportive of his EPA Administrator, some wonder if that will continue as the questions regarding Scott Pruitt's actions intensify. According to the Daily Beast, support for Scott Pruitt within the White House is softening somewhat and his future as a member of the administration may well depend on how well he holds his own during Thursday's Congressional appearances.