House Republicans on Scott Pruitt: We’re With Him

“I have, high, high, high confidence in his personal integrity.”

Ron Sachs/CNP/ZUMA

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One of the reasons Scott Pruitt has probably survived this long at the Environmental Protection Agency is that he still has key Republican support in Congress. It was clear Thursday that House Republicans were still willing to defend him, when Pruitt appeared before the House Energy and Commerce and the House Appropriations subcommittees.

The hearings followed a pattern. Democrats grilled Pruitt on the ethical problems surrounding his administration—or spent their remaining time with monologues about his actions. Republicans were less interested in getting answers from Pruitt on what subcommittee chair Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) called his “stewardship” of the agency, and spent more time focusing on the “policy” they agreed with. Despite Pruitt’s innumerable and well-documented ethical violations and questionable spending patterns, many Republicans in the hearing used their time to offer support for the embattled EPA head. 

“It’s shameful today that this hearing has turned into a personal attack hearing and a shameful attempt to denigrate the work that’s being done at the EPA,” Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) said. 

Rep. Gregg Harper, (R-Miss.) complained of the “political bloodsport to destroy anyone who is affiliated with this administration.”

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) called Pruitt a “victim” of Washington politics. “If you can’t debate the policies in Washington, you attack the personality. And that’s what’s happening to you.”

“I apologize for the abrasiveness of some of my colleagues who would rather tarnish your reputation than address the problems facing the nation,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) said after a heated line of questioning from the other side of the aisle. 

And as the Huffington Post pointed out, Rep. David McKinley called the criticism a “classic display of innuendo and McCarthyism.”

“I have, high, high, high confidence in his personal integrity,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Ok), who comes from Pruitt’s home state, added in the second hearing of the day. 

In between the hearings, Shimkus told reporters Pruitt’s answers were “a little vague” but maintained that only the White House had the power to decide the EPA administrator’s fate. 

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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