Apr 16, 2018

Watchdog: EPA violated law with $43k phone booth

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Photo: Pete Marovich/Getty Images

The Government Accountability Office determined that the Environmental Protection Agency violated the federal spending laws when the agency installed a $43,000 private phone booth in EPA chief Scott Pruitt's office without notifying Congress, reports ABC News.

Why it matters: Axios' Ben Geman says this is yet another negative headline for Pruitt at a time when he's facing multiple inquiries from lawmakers, the White House and the EPA's inspector general over his travel, security expenses, living arrangements and more. President Trump has signaled his support for Pruitt amid the ethics controversies, but the White House has also said that it’s still reviewing the matters.

But, but, but: Another report out today has some better news for Pruitt. The EPA's inspector general said documents show that Pruitt's chief of staff authorized significant raises for top EPA aides over objections from the White House, per Bloomberg. That backs up Pruitt's assertion that he neither knew about the raises nor their scope.

  • Flashback: Pruitt's denial earlier this month: “I found out this yesterday and I corrected the action and we are in the process of finding out how it took place and correcting it."

Go deeper

The Fed rescues Wall Street, but Main Street is another story

llustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In less than a month, the Federal Reserve has unleashed a multi-trillion dollar tour de force to buoy the U.S. economy against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: While it has steadied the markets, the Fed is poorly equipped to offset the hit being absorbed by small business owners and the close to 17 million Americans who have filed for unemployment in just the past three weeks.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 a.m. ET: 1,605,548 — Total deaths: 95,758 — Total recoveries: 355,983Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 a.m. ET: 466,299 — Total deaths: 16,686 — Total recoveries: 26,522Map.
  3. 2020 latest: Top conservative leaders are concerned the Trump administration isn't addressing the virus' long-term economic impact.
  4. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  5. Business latest: After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  6. 1 "SNL" thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return this weekend in a remotely produced episode.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Automakers lay out back-to-work playbook for coronavirus pandemic

Magna employees in China adapting to a new normal at work. Images courtesy of Magna

The auto industry is sharing detailed return-to-work guidelines on how to shield employees from the coronavirus as it prepares to reopen its own factories in the coming weeks.

Why it matters: We might not shake hands again, but sooner or later, most of us will return to our jobs, whether in a factory, office or public venue within close proximity of others. Reestablishing an environment where employees feel comfortable and can remain healthy will be a daunting challenge for every employer.