EPW Republicans to Boxer: Recent Fraud at EPA Proves Need to Examine Their Budget
After months of no action, Vitter asks Chairman Boxer to finalize a hearing date to review EPA’s budget. Says recent fraud case justifies budget review as priority
September 24, 2013

Today, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, along with all Committee Republicans, asked U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chairman of the EPW Committee to set a date for the much delayed hearing to review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) current and requested budget for Fiscal Year 2014. Nearly every Congressional committee of jurisdiction already held their respective hearings on EPA's 2014 Budget, and Administrator Gina McCarthy has now been leading the EPA for more than two months.

"It has been five months since EPA submitted their budget proposal, and since then, Chairman Boxer has rescheduled the budget hearing twice, using Administrator Gina McCarthy's nomination process as a delaying tactic," said Vitter. "That excuse can no longer be used. Oversight over EPA's budget is even more important after the corruption we've seen from a high-level EPA employee who managed to steal nearly $900,000 of the taxpayers' money, right under McCarthy's nose. We need to set a date for the EPA's budget hearing and fulfill our oversight responsibility of this troubled Agency."

Signing today's letter include U.S. Sens. Vitter, James Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.)

Click here to read the Washington Post story detailing the fraud at the EPA.

Text of the letter is below. Click here for the PDF version.

 

September 24, 2013

The Honorable Barbara Boxer
Chairman
Committee on Environment and Public Works
United States Senate
410 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-6175

Dear Chairman Boxer:

We write to request that the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (Committee) hold the much delayed hearing to review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) current and requested budget. Historically, budget hearings have served as the appropriate opportunity for congressional committees to afford the public a venue to review how federal taxpayer dollars are being spent. Eight months into the 113th Congress, you have yet to hold a hearing on EPA's Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Budget, which is a fundamental responsibility of the Committee. Accordingly, we believe it is inappropriate for the Committee to consider the nomination of Victoria Wassmer to be EPA's Chief Financial Officer until members of the Committee are afforded the opportunity to fulfill their duty to conduct oversight of EPA's budget.

As you are aware, EPA's 2014 Budget Proposal was submitted to Congress on April 10, 2013. You had originally scheduled a hearing for May 15, 2013, which was rescheduled for June 5, 2013. However, just days before the hearing you cancelled it, arguing that you did not want to hold a budget hearing until after Gina McCarthy was confirmed as EPA Administrator. Yet, nearly every Congressional Committee of jurisdiction has held its respective hearings on EPA's FY 2014 Budget and Administrator McCarthy has now been leading the EPA for more than two months. Accordingly, no further excuses legitimately exist for the Committee to abdicate its fundamental responsibility owed to the public.

Moreover, recent circumstances have heightened the need for such a review. The criminal indictment of John Beale, former Senior Policy Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Office of Air and Radiation, has revealed serious breakdowns at the Agency with regard to how taxpayer dollars are spent. It is apparent that for Beale to have stolen the reported amount of money through excess salary and bonuses, EPA must lack adequate internal controls over its disbursements.

The stunning revelation of Beale's long-term fraud stands in sharp contrast to the Administration's complaints about the impact of the Budget Control Act of 2011, commonly referred to as sequester. Numerous Administration officials, including former Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe, have claimed that sequester would have extreme negative impacts on federal agencies' ability to perform. Perciasepe even claimed that EPA would be incapable of performing "critical" functions. Yet contrary to these dire predictions, the Washington Post has reported that the sequester "has not produced what the Obama administration predicted: widespread breakdowns in crucial government services."

The Committee's abdication of oversight responsibility over this troubled agency is inexcusable. It is critical that we fully understand how the sequester has impacted EPA and determine whether Beale was an isolated actor or if senior management has been aware of additional instances where faulty controls have led to misspent taxpayer dollars. Moreover, it is inappropriate to proceed with the nomination of Victoria Wassmer until the Committee has satisfied its obligation to scrutinize EPA's 2014 Budget request.

Accordingly, we respectfully request that you find time on the Committee's calendar in the very near future to hold a budget hearing.


Sincerely,

David Vitter
Ranking Member
Environment and Public Works

James Inhofe
United States Senate

John Barrasso
United States Senate

Jeff Sessions
United States Senate

Mike Crapo
United States Senate

Roger Wicker
United States Senate

John Boozman
United States Senate

Deb Fischer
United States Senate

 

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