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Posted at 1:20 PM ET, 01/11/2011

What to expect with Republican oversight

By Jennifer Rubin

Democrats and liberal pundits have been complaining about the investigations planned by Republican House chairmen, including Rep. Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.). But, in fact, Issa's list is limited to substantive matters, including corruption in Afghanistan. Last week Politico reported:

Rep. Darrell Issa is aiming to launch investigations on everything from WikiLeaks to Fannie Mae to corruption in Afghanistan in the first few months of what promises to be a high-profile chairmanship of the top oversight committee in Congress.

According to an outline of hearing topics obtained by POLITICO, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is also planning to investigate how regulation affects job creation, the roles of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the foreclosure crisis, recalls at the Food and Drug Administration and the failure of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to agree on the causes of the market meltdown.

And, lo and behold, the mere threat of serious oversight hearings and the application of bipartisan pressure may have brought about results:

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction retired Gen. Arnie Fields submitted his resignation Monday, ending over a year of congressional complaints about his performance in overseeing tens of billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer reconstruction funding in Afghanistan.

In a statement issued by the press secretary's office, the White House praised Fields' tenure and avoided mentioning any of the criticisms leveled by senior senators, including Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Susan Collins (R-ME). . . .

The only question is why it took so long. Josh Rogin reports:

Fields had come under heavy criticism for his leadership of an oversight office that is failing to effectively monitor the allocation of billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer funds that are being invested in infrastructure in Afghanistan. Fields was criticized for running an office that failed to recover significant amounts of funds lost due to waste, fraud, and abuse. The work product from SIGAR, which included investigations and audits, was seen as incomplete and often off target by Congressional overseers. A memo circulated by Hill staffers earlier this year outlined the shortcomings of several of the organization's audits.

In her capacity as chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, McCaskill called Fields to testify on Nov. 18, where she pointed out that the taxpayers have given $46.2 million to the SIGAR office, but their investigations have only resulted in collections of $8.2 million.

In fact, substantive oversight hearings have been missing under one-party rule on topics as diverse as the Justice Department's civil rights enforcement, expenditure of stimulus funds, and the administration's feeble human rights policy. Oversight is a core function of Congress and essential in holding the executive branch accountable.

The lesson from Fields's resignation is that Obama administration figures who haven't done their jobs or have not enforced laws properly should take the hint. They might just want to spruce up their resumes and move on before their misdeeds and failings are displayed on C-SPAN.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 11, 2011; 1:20 PM ET
Categories:  House Democrats  
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One of the most corrupt out of control part of the Government right now is NOAA and specifically NMFS. Obama has put radical eco-terrorists in charge and they are in the process of crushing the commercial fishing industry, starting here in New England. I wish Rep. Issa and his team would look into this. It's even more corrupt that ClimateGate in my opinion. More details available at the Gloucester Times who do a great job shining a light on the issue:

Posted by: shanimal | January 11, 2011 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Darrell Issa rep, right, or Right Rep?

Posted by: aardunza | January 11, 2011 3:28 PM | Report abuse

The best thing about divided government is the oversight. One party government is always corrupt. Let's find out what the czars in the White House have been doing. Let's have real oversight of Justice, State and the regulatory bureaucracies.

Posted by: eoniii | January 11, 2011 3:39 PM | Report abuse

" . . . and the failure of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to agree on the causes of the market meltdown."

How on earth do you conduct an investigation of that?

Do you charge someone with failure to agree with fellow commissioners?

Posted by: 54465446 | January 11, 2011 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Jen starts with:
“Democrats and liberal pundits have been complaining about the investigations planned by Republican House chairmen, including Rep. Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.).”

LOL. As if any of Issa’s findings will be covered by the alphabet networks anyway. I will be watching FOX for that.

Posted by: nvjma | January 11, 2011 4:44 PM | Report abuse

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