GOP Wants Oversight Committee Members Named Now

Posted January 26, 2009 at 3:29pm

The top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Monday urged Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to immediately name the remaining Democratic Members to the panel so lawmakers can get to work. Citing President Barack Obama’s recent call for an “unprecedented effort” in government oversight, ranking member Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) penned a letter to Pelosi expressing his concern that the Democratic majority had yet to fill vacant slots on the committee. Issa told Pelosi that “it is troubling that assigning members to the Oversight Committee has not been a priority for the Democratic Leadership of this Congress. This unnecessary delay sends the wrong signal about the commitment of this Congress to conduct aggressive and independent oversight of federal government agencies and their programs.” Nadeam Elshami, a Pelosi spokesman, said the delay in filling out the panel was not intentional, attributing it to a hectic House schedule and Obama’s inauguration events. He added that the committee would be seated later this week. Former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who served as ranking member on the oversight committee in the 110th Congress and as its chairman in the 109th, said it was completely normal for the panel to be among the last to get up and running. Top committees are usually filled first, he said. “I won’t read too much into it.” However, Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella said the state of the economy demanded urgency. “At a time when Congressionally approved bailouts have resulted in billions of taxpayer dollars that are unaccounted for, you would think that getting the Oversight and Government Reform Committee to full capacity would be a more urgent priority, rather than an afterthought slowed down by the status quo ‘process,’” he said.