A group of 131 representatives and 39 senators, all of them Democrats, signed a resolution on Wednesday calling on embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to resign.
Pruitt has been at the center of a storm of allegations recently, ranging from trying to use his motorcade’s sirens to get through a traffic jam to spending millions on a 20-person security detail and first-class airfares to renting a luxury D.C. apartment, owned by the wife of a top fossil fuel lobbyist, for the totally normal price of $50 a night.
“Scott Pruitt… misused taxpayer dollars by spending those taxpayer dollars on excessive personal conveniences and unnecessary office enhancements,” the resolution read. “[All] while dramatically cutting budgets and staff for critically important enforcement, research, and implementation activities.”
But despite the glaring misuse of government funds, not a single Republican signed the resolution. Some Republicans have said that Pruit should resign, including Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Carlos Curbelo (FL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), but none have reached across the aisle to put pen to paper with Democrats.
Major policy differences aside, @EPAScottPruitt‘s corruption scandals are an embarrassment to the Administration, and his conduct is grossly disrespectful to American taxpayers. It's time for him to resign or for @POTUS to dismiss him. https://t.co/gXWLDffqam
— Rep. Carlos Curbelo (@RepCurbelo) April 3, 2018
In fact, many Republicans have been doing their utmost to explain away Pruitt’s lavish spending. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD), for instance, tried to argue that Pruitt was actually saving taxpayers money because he’s been so successful in implementing the president’s policies of deregulation. (That’s not true.)
“We’ll nitpick little things. He has too many people on his security detail. It may add up to more then what the previous guy did,” Rounds said earlier in April on Meet the Press. “But what about the big picture of… how he’s taking care of the taxpayer’s dollars within the department?”
Trump, unsurprisingly, has supported Pruitt despite the scandals. Last week he tweeted that Pruitt’s security spending was up as he had received death threats “because of his bold actions at the EPA.” But House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said that he was troubled by Pruitt’s spending — and added that he thought most people wouldn’t even recognize him.
“I’d be shocked if that many people knew who Scott Pruitt was,” he said in an interview on Fox News Sunday last week. “The notion that I’ve got to fly first class because I don’t want people to be mean to me — you need to go into another line of work if you don’t want people to be mean to you.”
But the controversy of Pruitt’s lavish spending masks a bigger problem: his roll in instigating a slew of rapid environmental rollbacks, including beginning the repeal of the Clean Power Plan and convincing the Trump administration to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. So far, he has finalized 22 regulatory rollbacks, with another 44 pending — despite the rollbacks being so instituted quickly it’s left the EPA little time to amass the evidence needed to defend the deregulatory actions in court.