“You are unfit to hold public office, and undeserving of the public trust,” Pallone, a Democratic congressman from New Jersey, told the EPA administrator in a congressional hearing on Thursday. He also called Pruitt an “embarrassment” and called on him to resign.
Pruitt’s two appearances today—before the House Energy and Commerce committee this morning, and the House Appropriations committee in the afternoon—are supposed to be about the EPA’s budget. But Pallone, citing the ethical scandals dogging Pruitt—like his potentially corrupt living arrangement with an energy lobbyist and his high spending on security and travel—set a combative tone in his opening remarks.
“Administrator Pruitt has brought secrecy, conflicts of interest and scandal to the EPA,” he said. “In any other administration, Republican or Democrat, you would be long gone by now.”
Pallone also subjected Pruitt to tense questioning over his policy agenda. He brought up the EPA’s decision to delay banning hazardous chemicals like methylene chloride—which is found in paint stripper—and cited the names of two men who died after exposure to the substance. “Do you have anything to say to these families at this point?” Pallone asked.
Pruitt responded that the EPA is considering banning of the chemical—a proposal that dates back to the Obama administration—but that “there has been no decision at this time.”
“Obviously you have nothing to say to these families,” Pallone said. “These chemicals are still on the shelves ... it makes a mockery of the EPA.”