Stefanik skips effort to dump Pruitt, still says he should quit
On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik’s signature was missing from a Democrat-led resolution to oust U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt, despite her announcement at a recent South Glens Falls town hall meeting that Pruitt should resign.
Stefanik, R-Willsboro, said Thursday in interviews with the Watertown Daily Times and Adirondack Daily Enterprise that she did not sign the resolution because it is a one-sided measure that will not be brought to a vote in the House anyway, as it lacks support from the Republican Party.
The best way to oust Pruitt, she argued, is to rally more pressure from Republican lawmakers. Stefanik said she and other Republican colleagues plan, perhaps as early as next week, to send a joint letter to the Trump administration, calling for Pruitt’s resignation.
A total of 39 senators and 131 representatives joined U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor. D-Fla., in introducing the resolution seeking Pruitt’s ouster.
According to Udall in a release, the resolution comes in response to Pruitt’s repeated ethics violations, misuse of taxpayer dollars and actions that fundamentally undermine the mission of the EPA.
In an April 5 town hall meeting with constituents at the Moreau Community Center in South Glens Falls, Stefanik said, “Let me make some news here. Pruitt should resign.”
The congresswoman continued to address the issue in response to a constituent’s question about Pruitt.
“I fundamentally disagree with how Pruitt handled his position as director of the EPA. I’m opposed to his slashing the EPA budgets,” Stefanik said. “I have been concerned about the ongoing ethics issues, and he should resign, and that is what I think about Scott Pruitt.”
In a Thursday interview with the Enterprise, Stefanik said she has shown significant independence from her colleagues in the Republican Party and explicitly and strongly called for Scott Pruitt to step down.
“I am working with Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to pressure the administration [about] the importance of Scott Pruitt stepping down. If you look at the resolution, it includes a number of policy areas,” she told the Enterprise. “This resolution does not have a chance of coming to the floor, and I believe that the more Republicans speak out and pressure the administration, the more likely we are to have that outcome.”
Pruitt, who was appointed to the EPA post last year, has been embroiled in controversy over his questionable spending habits and violation of anti-lobbying laws. The Government Accountability Office recently reported that Pruitt violated spending laws by purchasing a $43,000 soundproof phone booth with taxpayer dollars. The EPA inspector general is also examining Pruitt’s spending on travel and security.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., were two of the 39 senators who signed the resolution.
Stefanik is one of a handful of Republican lawmakers who have publicly called for Pruitt to resign his post at the EPA.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise Staff Writer Aaron Cerbone contributed to this report.