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Environmental Protection Agency acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the agency, is preparing for what could be the toughest congressional hearing of his life Wednesday.
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold Wheeler’s confirmation hearing as Democrats and environmentalists push for a delay.
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Committee Democrats tried to derail Wheeler’s hearing by calling into question his use of political and career staff to help him prepare for his confirmation hearing. Democrats suggested Wheeler’s use of EPA officials for hearing preparation may violate the Antideficiency Act.
In a letter sent Friday to the EPA, Democrats also said Wheeler’s preparation during the shutdown “is diverting resources that are intended to be used to ‘protect life and property’ to prepare you for your confirmation hearing,” alleging even more dire consequences to public health.
Antideficiency - Act - Branch - Agencies - Money
The Antideficiency Act prohibits executive branch agencies from spending money or incurring obligations outside those provided by Congress or federal law.
Both EPA and the White House Office of Management and Budget said the EPA staff helping Wheeler prepare for his confirmation hearing were “excepted” from furlough, meaning their participation is legal.
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“EPA has excepted a limited number of employees to prepare the Acting Administrator for the hearing on January 16th,” said EPA General Counsel Matt Leopold in a statement, The Hill reported.
Also on Friday, prominent environmental activists called on the Senate to delay Wheeler’s confirmation hearing while the federal government is shut down.
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“It is profoundly unfair for Mr. Wheeler to audition for a promotion to lead an agency while the entire agency workforce is locked out and denied their paychecks, making it difficult to pay their bills and mortgages and provide for their families,” prominent liberals, including John Podesta, former Hillary Clinton campaign chair, wrote in a letter to Senate leadership.
The Sierra Club, whose executive director Michael Brune signed...
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