Via an op-ed in the New York Times, Congressional Quarterly staff writer, Brian Friel, offers the incoming GOP-controlled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee some suggestions as to what they perhaps should and should not consider investigating next year.
Call me naïve, but I don’t see Darrell Issa being particularly vulnerable to a “charm offensive” from the White House, or anyone else for that matter. And I don’t think the administration is out to charm anyone, anyway.
I think we should resist the urge to constantly compare what Issa will do with what (any of) his predecessors did. And let’s not forget we’ve had two Democrats (Henry Waxman and Ed Towns) and a Republican (Tom Davis) chairing this committee since Dan Burton’s days at the helm in the 90s; why the fixation on Burton as the model? Circumstances change.
Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a column from Brian Friel, who usually writes at Congressional Quarterly, about what investigations people can expect once Republicans take control of the House in January 2011. Friel ran down a fairly commonplace list of controversies that new chair Darrell Issa has already discussed publicly as concerns, such as the White House offers to Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff to exit their primaries, the Friends of Angelo program, climate-change science and its influence on policy, and especially the Department of Justice’s handling of the New Black
With the Republican takeover of the House, Representative Darrell Issa of California will become the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Capitol Hill’s top watchdog panel. As the lead Republican on the panel the last two years, Mr. Issa, a hard-charging, quick-witted former car-alarm company owner, has been the Obama administration’s most aggressive antagonist on spending under the $787 billion economic stimulus package.
The eloquent young president had been elected with a mantra of hope and change. But, by his second year, his approval rating sank below 50 percent, his healthcare reform was mired in controversy, and candidates from his own party were uncertain whether they wanted him to campaign for them. On Election Day, the Democrats lost 54 seats in the House, eight seats in the Senate and 12 governorships.
Tuesday’s midterm election results are sure to mean a renewed and reinvigorated emphasis on congressional oversight, particularly in the GOP-led House. Speaker-elect John Boehner (R-OH) has already sent word to would-be committee chairs that all committees are to have oversight as a key component of their agendas; and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the shoo-in candidate to chair the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has been laying the groundwork for a robust investigative slate since President Obama’s election two years ago.
Presidents need accomplishments to implement their policy preferences, enhance their reputations and win re-election. With Republicans now controlling the House and Democrats having a very slim majority in the Senate, there is little prospect of significant legislative accomplishments – the most obvious means of demonstrating a president’s leadership – during the next two years. You can expect President Obama will turn to the executive branch, a very large and diverse collection of agencies upon which he can call to advance his agenda.