Five U.S. House committee chairmen blasted the Dep’t of Justice Jul. 15 for thwarting Congressional investigations and looked for new tools to strengthen future probes. In testimony to the House Rules Committee, the chairmen directed most of their criticism at Atty. Gen. Janet Reno. House Gov’t Reform Chairman Dan Burton (R-Ind.) led the charge accusing Reno of “corruption” by dodging or blocking his requests for information.
The most specific reform suggestions came from Education & Workforce Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) who complained that his probe of the Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters was “substantially limited” by DOJ. Hoekstra proposed a new rule to give oversight committees subpoena power
they now can acquire only by a vote of the full House. He also suggested the House should entertain giving itself the power to pursue contempt of Congress charges in court; currently, the House refers contempt actions to the attorney general.
Burton placed all blame for the trouble on the administration’s partisanship, but Judiciary Chairman Henry J. Hyde said it was “human” and endemic of the relationship between Congress and the executive branch. Hyde said DOJ went over the line in refusing to cooperate, but laid the root of the blame on the pursuit of political power. [CongressDaily 7/16/99]