On Tuesday, President Donald Trump voiced his support for embattled EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt. Trump’s EPA head is in hot water, and is facing calls to resign over an emerging travel expense scandal of the same sort that resulted in the ouster of HHS Secretary Tom Price, and VA Secretary, David Shulkin.
On Monday night, President Trump called Pruitt and told him “keep your head up,” “keep fighting,” and “we have your back.”
According to reports, John Kelly, the chief of staff of the White House also gave Pruitt a call on Tuesday. However, some Republicans are calling for Pruitt to step down.
“When scandals and distractions overtake a public servant’s ability to function effectively, another person should fill that role,” said Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican – Florida) in a statement demanding Pruitt to step down.
Rep Carlos Curbelo (Republican – Florida) also concurred that Pruitt should resign. On Tuesday afternoon, Curbelo tweeted that Pruitt’s “corruption scandals are an embarrassment to the administration, and his conduct is grossly disrespectful to American taxpayers.” He further added, “It’s time for him to resign or for [Trump] to dismiss him.”
Pruitt’s crime? He had leased a $50 per night two-bedroom condo located on Capitol Hill, and used it to house his family when they came to visit.
Unsurprisingly, Democrats are frantically calling for the removal of Scott Pruitt from the EPA. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Reps Don Beyer of Virginia and Ted Lieu of California called on Tuesday for the inspector general of EPA to examine the situation surrounding Scott Pruitt’s condo rental.
Lieu and Beyer wrote that the rental cost of the condo “is far below market value and, as such, would constitute an impermissible gift under federal regulations.” They cautioned that if these low prices were agreed by the owner “with the intent to curry favor with him on an issue important to” their benefits, that it possibly will be illegal.
Pruitt’s supporters are standing beside him due to his aggressive job to fix the Obama government’s environmental agenda.
“These stories are obviously a distraction, and I hope he can work through them,” stated Competitive Enterprise Institute’s head of the energy and environment program Myron Ebell. “The president causes enough problems with the administration with things that he gets into. So far [Pruitt’s] doing a great job and I think these are fairly minor issues.”
Nick Loris at the Heritage Foundation believes Pruitt will probably stick through.
“I personally think that he can weather this storm, given that he’s proven to work hard on accomplishing many of the regulatory rollbacks that the president wants,” he stated. “In terms of keeping the conservative, free-market base happy and keeping businesses and families across the country happy with what many have deemed burdensome regulations, the administrator has done what he wanted to do in his previous role as attorney general, and accomplish it in this new role.”
Pruitt has not given any indication that he will give up, or slow down his deregulation efforts. In fact, on Tuesday, he made a long-awaited announcement rolling back harmful Obama-era regulations on the American auto industry.
“We will get this right going forward, this year,” said Scott Pruitt criticizing the earlier standards made by the Obama government. “I think the focus in the past has been on making manufacturers in Detroit, making manufacturers in various parts of the country, make cars that people aren’t going to buy. And our focus should be on making cars that people purchase actually more efficient.”