This bill — known as the Ensuring Pruitt is Accountable (EPA) Act of 2018 — would suspend proposed rulemaking signed by former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt. The bill would require the EPA’s Inspector General to continue its investigations into former Administrator Pruitt’s conduct, and suspect and proposed rulemaking he signed until after the results of the EPA IG’s investigations are made public.
- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The house has not voted
- The senate has not voted
Committee on Environment and Public WorksIntroducedJuly 31st, 2018
- senate Committees
What is Senate Bill S. 3312?
Cost of Senate Bill S. 3312
In-Depth: Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced this bill to ensure that the EPA holds its former administrator responsible for abuses of his office:
“Scott Pruitt brought unprecedented corruption and industry influence to the EPA. His actions cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged, and at the very least, these destructive moves must be put on hold until the numerous investigations into Pruitt’s activities have concluded. It’s time to restore an EPA that actually acts to protect our clean air and clean water rather than protecting the profits of powerful polluters.”
One potential rationale for tying EPA rulemaking to the finalization of the EPA IG’s investigations is to put pressure on the IG. Back in May 2, 2018, responding to a letter to Sen. Merkley and Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)’s request that the EPA IG look into Pruitt’s use of multiple email accounts, the IG noted that its lack of funding and large workload would make its investigation into that matter slow:
“We have to determine whether we have sufficient resources-people, time and funds-to do a project in a timely fashion and whether it would preclude our doing other crucial work. The fact is that the OIG has been funded at less than the levels we deem adequate to do all of the work that should be done, and we therefore have to make difficult decisions about whether to accept any given potential undertaking.”
It is worth noting that none of the cases against Pruitt involve his policy decisions, which largely aim to halt or reverse many EPA programs. Eric Wang, who practices election and government ethics law for the firm Wiley Rein, says the Pruitt case is a display of Washington power politics, and doesn’t signal a breakdown in government ethics:
“I think the state of the ethics laws in our country is strong, and I think Scott Pruitt's resignation and the controversy surrounding the allegations against him demonstrate that.”
Wang argued that Democrats initially tried to oust Pruitt based solely on his policy agency, which the White House and Republican lawmakers strongly supported, but which Democrats opposed. It was only after Democrats’ efforts in that arena failed, he argued, that they “looked to these other issues, these personal issues, these ethics issues, to really force Republicans to put pressure on him to step down.”
There are two cosponsors of this bill, both of whom are Democrats.
Of Note: There are at least ten IG investigations into Pruitt, covering his travel, use of taxpayer dollars to decorate his office, unprecedented security detail, and use of multiple email accounts.
Pruitt resigned as the administration of the EPA on July 5th under the weight of at least 13 investigations into grifting and abuses of power. In less than 18 months in office, Pruitt was alleged to have spent:
Over $3 million on a 24-hour security detail three times the size of his predecessor’s;
$43,000 on a soundproof phone booth for his office that was subsequently found to be illegal;
$5,700 on biometric locks; and
Over $100,000 on first-class flights, on the basis that his security would be compromised in economy.
He was also found to have stayed, at a far below-market-rate cost of only $50 a night, in a Capitol Hill townhouse owned by the wife of an energy industry lobbyist. Early on in his tenure, Pruitt also reportedly requested that his motorcade use flashing lights and police sirens to speed trips through Washington-area traffic when he was late for official meetings, rushing to the airport for a flight, and, in at least one instance, late to dinner at a trendy French restaurant.
Pruitt was also accused of misusing his staffers’ time, reportedly instructing an aide to contact Republican donors and businesses to find six-figure employment for his wife, Marlyn. In one instance, he had his scheduler reach out to the head of Chick-fil-A to explore the possibility of his wife operating one of their franchises. Pruitt also had aides: find a new apartment for him, call the Trump hotel to inquire about purchasing a used mattress, buy him fancy snack food, arrange a family vacation to California, pick up his dry cleaning, and search for a particular brand of lotion available only in select Ritz-Carlton hotels. When staffers challenged Pruitt about EPA’s spending and management, he reassigned or demoted them — resulting in at least five officials’ demotions or reassignments.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStock.com / NoDerog)