EPW Minority to Barrasso: Set a Date for Long-Overdue EPA Budget Hearing
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the minority members of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee asked Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) to hold a hearing to review the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 and call on Administrator Scott Pruitt to testify at the hearing.
In a letter led by Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), the senators highlighted the fact that President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal was submitted to Congress more than four months ago. During that time, numerous Senate committees have held routine fiscal year 2018 budget hearings with testimony from relevant cabinet-level officials. Additionally, Mr. Pruitt has found time to testify on EPA’s budget requests before two other congressional committees, but has yet to appear before EPW.
The lawmakers wrote, “Nearly ten months into the 115th Congress, more than seven months after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was sworn in, and only days before the start of the next fiscal year, the Committee has yet to hold a hearing to examine EPA’s budget, which is an important Committee oversight responsibility.”
The senators also noted that the EPW Committee has a long history of reviewing EPA’s annual budget requests, regardless of which political party was in power. They highlighted the fact that, “Since 1999, only once has this Committee not held a hearing on the agency’s budget request.”
The request from EPW minority members mirrors a 2013 request EPW Republicans sent to then-Chairman Boxer asking for a budget hearing with then-Administrator Gina McCarthy. In a letter dated September 23, 2013, EPW Republicans, including Senator Barrasso, called the fact that Administrator McCarthy, who had been in place at EPA for over two months, had not appeared before the committee “inexcusable” and an “abdication of oversight responsibility” by the committee. In that same 2013 letter, Republican senators also wrote that it would be “inappropriate” for the EPW Committee to consider EPA nominees “until members of the Committee are afforded the opportunity to fulfill their duty to conduct oversight of EPA’s budget.”
The request to discuss EPA’s budget also comes on the heels of reports that Administrator Pruitt recently spent upwards of $25,000 for a customized soundproof booth for his office, despite a formal secure document room already existing within EPA headquarters.
Senator Carper was joined by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
The text of the letter to Chairman Barrasso is available below and here.
September 29, 2017
Dear Chairman Barrasso:
We write to request that the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (Committee) hold a hearing to review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget proposal for fiscal year (FY) 2018, and that Administrator Scott Pruitt be asked to testify at this hearing.
We are concerned that this necessary hearing is long overdue. Nearly ten months into the 115th Congress, more than seven months after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was sworn in, and only days before the start of the next fiscal year, the Committee has yet to hold a hearing to examine EPA’s budget, which is an important Committee oversight responsibility.
This Committee has a long history of reviewing EPA’s annual budget requests, without regard to which political party has been in the majority or occupied the White House. Since 1999, only once has this Committee not held a hearing on the agency’s budget request. In fact, in 2013, you and other Republican Members of the Committee wrote to then-Chairman Barbara Boxer requesting that she bring then-Administrator Gina McCarthy before the Committee to discuss the EPA’s FY 2014 budget request. In a letter dated September 23, 2013 (attached), Republican Members noted that Administrator McCarthy had been in place for over two months but had still not appeared before the Committee, calling the situation “inexcusable” and an “abdication of oversight responsibility” by the Committee.
In comparison, Scott Pruitt was sworn in as EPA Administrator on February 17, 2017, and EPA’s FY 2018 budget proposal was submitted to Congress on May 23, 2017. Administrator Pruitt’s current tenure at EPA has already been three times longer than Ms. McCarthy’s when Republican Members made that request. More troublingly, he has testified on the EPA’s FY 2018 budget before two other Congressional committees, but has yet to appear before this one.
During his confirmation hearing, Administrator Pruitt agreed to appear before this Committee and provide information. Providing detail about the implications of an EPA budget proposal on the agency’s mission, programs and responsibilities is one of the basic duties of the EPA Administrator, and reviewing that proposal is one of our important responsibilities.
We respectfully request that you find time on the Committee’s calendar in the very near future for Administrator Pruitt to testify about EPA’s budget proposal. Thank you.