After questions about travel, EPA head nixes trip to Israel

Pruitt under fire for travel costs

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt is postponing a planned trip to Israel.

The decision comes as Pruitt is under pressure over the cost of his travel, including frequent first-class flights. The postponement of the Israel trip was first reported by The Washington Post.

EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman confirmed the trip's postponement in an email Sunday. She did not explain why the trip had been postponed or immediately respond to an email asking whether the decision was related to the recent reports about Pruitt's travel.

Pruitt has said a "toxic environment politically" required first-class travel and protection from a 24-hour security detail.

According to travel vouchers obtained by an environmental organization, Pruitt and staffers billed taxpayers nearly $200,000 for his trips over six months last year.

CBS News had learned that when Pruitt returned home from Milan on June 11, he flew on Emirates Airlines, whose business class cabins are some of the world's most luxurious, complete with an onboard lounge that promises what the airline calls a "truly unique journey."

To take the flight, Pruitt needed special dispensation. Government officials are bound by the Fly America Act, which requires them to "use U.S. air carrier service for all air travel… funded by the U.S. government."

Sources have told CBS News that Pruitt regularly flies in first class along with his unprecedented, round-the-clock, security detail. The costs of their travel has not been made available.

A certificate justifying the return flight from Milan that the EPA provided to CBS News said Pruitt flew on a foreign carrier because it was the only available flight "that would get the administrator back in time" to attend a Cabinet meeting with President Trump the next day. 

Around the same time of Pruitt's travel revelations, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin drew ire of his own after an internal watchdog investigation surrounding the secretary's improper travel expenses for a trip to Europe last year.  The investigation found that Shulkin had improperly accepted Wimbledon tennis tickets and likely wrongly used taxpayer money to cover his wife's airfare for an 11-day European trip. 

The report also questioned Shulkin's decision to direct agency staff on official time to arrange personal sightseeing activities for him and his wife during the July trip to England and Denmark.