Oversight Republicans Challenge Towns Ability to Lead Committee

January 7, 2010

Committee Republicans Plan to Consult with Democratic Colleagues to Push for Hearings on Failed Terrorist Attacks

WASHINGTON. D.C. – Responding to a letter sent to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the Ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Committee Republicans tonight sent a response to Chairman Towns calling on him to “cease the stonewalling of this Committee’s active and vigorous oversight” and called for immediate hearings into the Christmas-day terrorist attempt.

Referring to Chairman Towns’ response as “wholly inadequate” and a “dereliction of duty,” Committee Republicans noticed the Chairman of their intention to “consult with our Democratic colleagues about your repeated unwillingness to lead this Committee to fulfill its proper role.  We strongly suspect that many of them share our concern that under you chairmanship this Committee has too often shown reluctance to fulfill its oversight responsibilities…if you are unable to lead a bipartisan investigation on this subject, it raises very serious concerns about your ability to do so on other matters in the future.”

Committee Republicans note that the Oversight Committee is “uniquely positioned in the House of Representatives to investigate failures involving multiple agencies, and our Committee must not abdicate this responsibility on critical questions of national security when American lives are at risk.”

Since 2001, the Committee has held 37 hearings examining the effectiveness of our intelligence agencies and homeland security readiness.

“The House has assigned this Committee with vast oversight responsibilities that allow us to investigate any federal agency or program without limitations of a narrow jurisdiction,” the letter says.  “Even when other committees execute their own oversight responsibilities, they are necessarily restricted in the scope of their investigations.  It is a real possibility that individual committees will hear from agencies that will tell their side of the story and possibly pass the blame onto other agencies, thus initiating a fruitless cycle of reciprocal finger-pointing and piecemeal reforms that fail to integrate government-wide solutions to nation-wide problems.”

“We request that you cease the stonewalling of this Committee’s active and vigorous oversight, call for immediate hearings on this matter, and retrieve this Committee and your chairmanship from a year-long march toward the precipice of congressional irrelevance,” the letter concludes.

The letter was signed by Reps. Dan Burton, John Mica, John Duncan, Mark Souder, Joseph Cao, Lynn Westmoreland, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Jeff Fortenberry, Jason Chaffetz, Jeff Flake, Patrick McHenry, Aaron Schock, Jim Jordan, Michael Turner and Brian Bilbray.
Click Here to Read the Letter from Ranking Member Issa to Towns from January 5th.