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House to Consider Expanded Oversight of Agencies

By Ed O'Keefe

UPDATE 7 p.m. ET: The oversight proposal will not be included in tomorrow's House rules package, according to a House leadership aide. It will instead be considered as a separate bill as early as next week, according to another House leadership source.

ORIGINAL POST: The House is expected to take up a bill soon that would greatly increase oversight of federal agencies and departments in an effort to reduce waste, fraud and abuse.

The measure would require committees to conduct hearings whenever an inspector general's report turns up misuses of government resources and personnel. It could be considered tomorrow as part of the House rules package that is traditionally approved at the start of each session of the House, or might pass next week as a standalone bill.

The House passes a rules package at the start of each new session. In 2006 for example, the rules package included a ban on gifts from lobbyists and name changes for some committees.

Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.), the lead sponsor of the oversight bill, first proposed similar measures in May 2006. They would have required required congressional hearings within 60 days of IG reports about mismanagement resulting in the loss of more than $1 million and would have required cabinet secretaries to appear before Congress when auditors corrected an agency's audit. Tanner's current pitch differs from his original one.

"Congressman Tanner is working with House leadership to ensure the 111th Congress' rules package provides for strong oversight and accountability of government spending," said spokesman Randy Ford, who could not provide specifics of the new proposals. He said the rules package will be finalized in time to be brought to the floor immediately after Congress convenes tomorrow.

Details of any expansion of the House's oversight responsibilities are still being discussed and are not guaranteed to pass with the Rules package tomorrow, a House source said. Regardless, some suggest the government should take a more proactive approach.

“You can talk about having congressional hearings, and triggers about when you have congressional hearings, but you have to make sure that your oversight mechanisms actually have the capacity to exercise the oversight," says Kenneth M. Mead, special counsel at Baker Botts LLP who served as the Department of Transportation's inspector general during the Clinton administration.

“We’d also ought not limit them to identifying potential waste and fraud," Mead said of Congress. "They also should require a congressional hearing about what each agency is doing to prevent waste and fraud in the first instance.”

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By Ed O'Keefe  | January 5, 2009; 4:35 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Congress, Oversight  
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From the article:
UPDATE 7 p.m. ET: The oversight proposal will not be included in tomorrow's House rules package, according to a House leadership aide. It will instead be considered as a separate bill as early as next week ...
Congress has almost completely abrogated its responsibility in the last 8 years.
Most of their "oversight" hearings were rank jokes, except for the hearings conducted by Congressman Waxman, to whom this nation owes a Metal of Freedom for his hard work and tenacious pursuit of corruption.
They better pass a bill with teeth in it; no "grandfathering" the past 8 years, either.
Just those no-bid contracts ought to keep this Congress busy for the next 16 years.
Not to mention the appalling demise of intelligent thought in the SEC and FDIC.
And then there's the Dept. of Homeland Security and all that's under its umbrella, including the appearance of Blackwater toting cannons on the streets of New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina.
Give this one retiree from Texas a chance and I could keep those clowns busy for the next 20 years, at least.
Just give me a few U.S. attorneys and subpoena power and I'll be glad to show Congress how it's done.
More than glad.
My hometown would love it.
They want to know right now where the promised federal funds are for cleaning up the marsh (our shrimp breeding grounds), Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island after Hurricane Ike, not to mention the grieving families of those who disappeared from Galveston, Bolivar and Sabine Pass, who have never been found.
We know there were funds out there somewhere (in the ether) but they've never materialized down here.
Galveston and New Orleans' surrounding parishes are sick to death of waiting for some action.
Oh, yes -- then there's the FDA and the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
Congress doubled their budget; did the idiot running the latter agency ever spend it for anything more than junkets to China?
Oh, I could go on and on ... and on.
It's time for Congress to earn their salaries in service to the American people.
Past time.

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | January 5, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

If they (House and Senate) are going to increase "OVERSIGHT" they better start working 5 day WORK weeks. Right now THEY work only 3 day WORK weeks. Stop having STAFF do the work. They just got an AUTOMATIC $4,700.00 Pay RAISE. HOW ABOUT EARNING IT. They (house and senate) are SALARIED not HOURLY. IF it takes 18 hour days 6 days a week so be it. Nobody twisted their arm. Nobody put a gun to their head to take this job. THEY WENT OUT ON THEIR OWN. RAISED MONEY. HAD A CAMPAIGN.

I suggest people read the wbe page for the "House Committee on Financial Services", Clearly they HAVEN'T done what THEY already are Charged with!!!

Posted by: doughboy96 | January 5, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

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