Control of the House matters for a number of reasons. It would allow the Democrats to block any further “reconciliation” bills (budget bills that can’t be filibustered). It would increase their leverage in negotiations. But at least as importantly, it would empower them to conduct investigations.
Here’s a list of some of the question they might well want to investigate if that should come to pass:
- Why did Pruitt’s security brigade break down the front door of a D.C. condo to “rescue” him while he was taking a quiet nap?
- And why was Pruitt apparently paying below market rent on the condo, which belonged to an energy industry lobbyist’s wife? Did the lobbyist’s firm have any business in front of the agency?
- Why did Pruitt fly at government expense to Morocco to encourage them to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas, which is not a matter within EPA jurisdiction? Was the trip undertaken at the behest of industry lobbyists?
- Why exactly does Pruitt need an around-the-clock security detail, at a cost of around 2 million taxpayer dollars a year? Why is the government paying for his security at Rose Bowl and Disneyland visits? Couldn’t he just stay home and watch TV?
- And what about all those first-class flights with his security people, which have cost $200,000 in just a year? Why did the government pay for weekend visits to his home state of Oklahoma where he spent only an hour or two on official tasks?
- Speaking of security, why did Pruitt need to have a $40,000 secure phone booth constructed in his office when there was already a secure phone site in the building?
- Why, in his first year, did Pruitt meet with industry representatives on a daily basis, while only 1% of his meetings were with people representing environmental or public health groups?
- Why exactly was it that Pruitt thought independent scientists who get government research grants have a conflict of interest in advising the agency, but industry scientists don’t have a conflict?
- After the White House said no, why did he give two young aides huge pay increases under a law designed to allow EPA to hire specialized experts? (He claims now that he didn’t know about any of this. If so, who signed the papers, and why wasn’t he supervising important personnel decisions?) Oh, and where did Pruitt live during August after he left that condo and before he got someplace new?
- Why did Pruitt feel it necessary to take both women along on trips overseas,? And why did he get one of them to help him find a place to live in violation of federal personnel rules?
Of course, this list doesn’t even include the less juicy but weightier questions about Pruitt’s particular regulatory actions and the flimsy evidence and sloppy procedures behind many of them. But this list is at least a starting point for what could be many days of entertaining though disturbing hearings.