"You show the same disregard for our ethical standards and fiscal controls as you show for the air we breathe and the water we drink."
What: Sen. Tom Udall, a Minnesota Democrat, sharply criticized Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt during a Wednesday Senate budget hearing. Characterizing his tenure at the agency as "disastrous" and a "betrayal of the American people," Udall called on Pruitt to resign.
Why: Udall wasn't alone in criticizing Pruitt at the hearing. Fellow Democrat senators piled on with questions about Pruitt's ethics and spending decisions, reflecting the broad scrutiny that's shadowed him in the press since he took control of the environmental watchdog agency. At the hearing, Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy responded to Pruitt's claim that $100,000 in first-class airfare expenses was necessary for security reasons by saying, "Nobody even knows who you are."
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Udall began by noting that from a policy standpoint, he's never seen eye to eye with Pruitt.
"It's clear that I've had policy disagreements with you from the beginning and that I opposed your nomination. So it should come as no surprise when I called on you to resign. What is surprising, however, is the breadth of voices who agree with me that your leadership at the EPA is disastrous."
His lambasting of Pruitt lasted for more than nine minutes.
"Ultimately, Administrator Pruitt, I just can't separate your scandals from these shameless efforts to dismantle EPA. They are one in the same. Both your scandals and your policy decisions abuse your position of public trust and make a mockery of your responsibilities as head of EPA. You show the same disregard for our ethical standards and fiscal controls as you show for the air we breathe and the water we drink."
After Udall's opening statement, he and Pruitt engaged in a back and forth.
- Here's a list of the various investigations into Pruitt's conduct currently being undertaken by the agency's inspector general.
- In April, amid more allegations of wastefulness and malfeasance, Pruitt appeared before the House for a proper grilling.
- After a bit of a back-and-forth, President Trump maintains that he has full confidence in Pruitt despite recent controversies.
- Oh, almost forgot: Pruitt also wanted to make the new EPA insignia less about the environment and more about him.