EPA chief to face fresh questions about spending in senate hearing

EPA chief Scott Pruitt demanded got unprecedented security from his first day on job agency watchdog says

The admission came during a Senate budget hearing, which including sharp questions from Democrats about the administrator's ethics and spending decisions.

Pruitt has also said that he has stopped routinely flying first class, something the agency had previously defended as a way to help him avoid threats from the public. "To have this individual, Mr. Hart, who's a lobbyist, and then you rent a room from him at a pretty good deal?" But you have to fly first class? "Oh c'mon", Leahy said. A whistleblower said Pruitt lied about not retaliating against aides who questioned his decisions.

"Scott Pruitt's record of misleading statements, half-truths and outright lies mean he should be put under oath every morning before breakfast, and certainly before he testifies in front of Congress", said EWG President Ken Cook.

Udall tells Pruitt he's treating his position of public trust "as a golden ticket for extravagant travel and fine dining". At Pruitt's request, the enhanced protection begin on his first day in office, the inspector general said, while Pruitt and his aides have pointed to a memo dated six months into his tenure as justifying justification the detail. Asked again if he had personally made the request, Pruitt said, "I don't recall that". He added that he did not pay her for this service.

At least one other political aide at the EPA has been criticized for failing to file a financial disclosure form during his time at the agency.

At the beginning of the hearing, Republican Sen.

"Instead of being asked about the work that you're doing. I'm being asked, really constantly asked, to comment on [your] security, housing and travel".

"A series of investigations are now underway", Murkowski said to Pruitt, "I would hope that you can fully answer the questions that members that they will pose this morning". That continues a trend: throughout his two prior appearances on Capitol Hill, Pruitt remained unresponsive to questions from Democratic lawmakers. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss) said she was "most impressed" with his push to ease regulations and clean up a contaminated site in her state. "These are cuts that I can not support", Murkowski said.

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But Pruitt downplayed his own roles in several instances of excessive agency spending.

Udall issued some of the harshest criticism of Pruitt, calling his leadership at the EPA "a betrayal of the American people".

Among the new development's at Wednesday's hearing is Pruitt contradicting an internal email from his security chief that showed he encouraged the use of lights and sirens for non-emergency situations while traveling in a motorcade. "At the agency, candidates and appointed special government employees must fill out a detailed form annually".

Pruitt says, "I don't recall that happening". "Those policies were followed to the best of my knowledge". Asked about the issue by Democratic Sen. The subcommittee's conservative members more broadly declined to pursue any aggressive line of questioning, even after Pruitt confirmed that one of his top aides did in fact assist his housing search past year, a potential violation of federal law.

When grilled about specific incidents - including an official agency tweet in April mocking Democrats voting against the confirmation of an EPA official - Pruitt repeatedly refused to apologize.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski - chair of the Appropriations subcommittee - said in her opening remarks that she welcomed some of Pruitt's regulatory agenda but the ethics issues were a distraction.

On the legal defense fund, Pruitt said his attorney was working with the Government Accountability Office to make sure it was run properly.

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