Sen. Ted Cruz is warning he might seek to compel testimony from the Treasury Department about the Affordable Care Act.
The Texas Republican presidential candidate, who has the gavel of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, said his staff had been informed by the Obama administration that witnesses would not be available to testify about the rule-making process for providing subsidies under Obamacare because of ongoing litigation.
"For two main reasons, this excuse is entirely invalid," Cruz wrote in a new letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew. "First, Congress retains its right to conduct oversight of the executive branch at all times, regardless of any perceptions of poor timing by, or inconvenience to, the executive branch. The Senate Judiciary Committee has obligations to ensure the proper functioning of the federal government at all times, and not just during windows of convenience for political officials. Second, your Department's pending litigation justification is without basis, particularly given how you have provided at least one Department witness for the exact same topic during the pendency of other litigation over the last few years."
In the letter, Cruz said if three tax policy officials at the Treasury Department are not made available on a voluntary basis, he may pursue other methods to get them to appear. The subcommittee had been planning to hold the hearing on June 4.
The Senate Finance Committee has primary jurisdiction over tax issues, but other committees have been holding hearings about the health care law's implementation.
"If you do not opt to assist Congress and make all three individuals available voluntarily, I may have no choice but to pursue other options, including compulsory process, to make them available for testimony," Cruz wrote in the missive to Lew. "Please note, in the event we are compelled to use compulsory process to ensure the attendance of these witnesses, the two-week courtesy notice prior to testimony is no longer applicable, and these individuals can be summoned for testimony at any time deemed convenient for the Committee."
The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.