The Environmental Protection Agency has blown a deadline to hand over documents to Congress pertaining to administrator Scott Pruitt’s travel expenses.
In late February, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, asked the agency to provide relevant documentation on Pruitt’s government travel after reports surfaced that Pruitt was flying in first class without having proper approval to do so.
Gowdy gave the EPA until March 6 to produce the records. Nearly a week later, documents have not been provided to Congress.
The EPA told The Daily Beast that agency staff “have been in contact with Chairman Gowdy and are accommodating his request as quickly as possible.” And Amanda Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for the committee, told The Daily Beast that the panel has “been in touch with the EPA regarding the status of our request.”
“We anticipate a productive response shortly,” Gonzalez added.
A source familiar with the situation attributed the delay to the sheer volume of records being requested by the committee, and the difficulties in ensuring that the records turned over were complete and accurate.
Gowdy requested the documents amid reports of Pruitt’s exorbitant travel expenses, which included first-class flights on the taxpayers’ dime. In particular, the congressman sought information about why the EPA initially said Pruitt had a “blanket” waiver to sit in first class due to security concerns, but later said the agency requested individual waivers for specific trips.
“Clearly, federal regulations prohibit a blanket waiver to fly first class except to accommodate disabilities or special needs,” Gowdy wrote at the time. “Instead, a waiver is required for each flight in order to fly first of business class when traveling on official government business.”
Pruitt attributed his travel habits to security concerns, saying the threats against him have been “unprecedented.” Nevertheless, he told CBS News last month that he will fly coach going forward.
“Look, there have been incidents on planes,” Pruitt said. “There have been incidents in airports, and those incidents, you know, occurred, and they are of different types.”