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Pruitt postponing visit to Israel after reports of expensive travel

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EPA chief Scott Pruitt

WASHINGTON — Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt has postponed a planned visit to Israel following criticism for taking expensive flights on the taxpayer dollar, an EPA spokesperson confirmed to CNN.

“We decided to postpone,” EPA public affairs officer Liz Bowman said in an email. “The administrator looks forward to going in the future.”

The Washington Post was first to report news of the postponement, and people in Israel briefed on Pruitt’s plans told the Post he would have arrived Sunday and stayed at a five-star hotel in Jerusalem through Thursday.

The Post said an EPA official previously said Pruitt would visit Israel to tour the nation and “gain an understanding of Israel’s unique infrastructure and environmental challenges.”

Pruitt has faced criticism for taking expensive flights and staying at luxury hotels more often than his predecessors, but has pushed back on accusations of improper or wasteful spending.

“We’ve reached the point where there’s not much civility in the marketplace,” Pruitt said. “And it’s created, you know, it’s created some issues and the (security) detail, the level of protection is determined by the level of threat.”

He said he did not make the decision around his security and travel, and EPA documents have outlined details of some of his travel.

Scrutiny over Pruitt’s travel has built for months, making him one of several Trump administration Cabinet officials under fire for their travel practices. Tom Price resigned last year as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services after reports emerged about his extensive use of government-funded private jets.

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