James Comer Announces Plan To Turn Oversight Committee Into Benghazi-Dick Pic-Cancel Culture-Palooza
New House Oversight Chair James Comer isn't really much for "laws" or "Constitution." We are talking about someone trying to force DirecTV, a private company, to carry the rightwing Newsmax channel for "First Amendment."
\u201cJames Comer says he's been in "constant communication" with leadership of AT&T and DirecTV over DirecTV's decision to drop Newsmax, adding he told them "to get this worked out, or else"\n\nI'm sure the Twitter Files folks will be very mad about this First Amendment infringement!\u201d— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1677259721
Five minutes ago, Comer was shouting that it's unlegal for Twitter to remove Hunter Biden's dick pics at the behest of the Biden campaign. The guy is literally offering a bill today demanding that government agencies give the Oversight Committee a list of every time in the past five years they contacted a social media company about taking down a misleading post. Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, etc.
And so it's hardly surprising that the committee's Authorization and Oversight Plan contains so many batshit, partisan political priorities. At first glance, the list of 20 targets, first flagged by Axios, seems fairly anodyne. Indeed it does seem appropriate for Oversight to be focused on, say, Inspectors General, the Government Accountability Office, and government programs which are lapsing this year. But look a little closer and you'll see that fuckery's afoot.
Just this past week, Comer sent letters to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and FBI Director Christopher Wray demanding information about the "lab leak theory" of the coronavirus origin, specifically "whether any U.S. taxpayer dollars funded the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s (WIV) dangerous gain-of-function research." The GOP is convinced that if they can prove COVID-19 came from a lab, they can claim Democrats funded it and that will somehow make it Dr. Anthony Fauci's fault that upwards of a million Americans are dead. Taken in that light, the Committee's laser-focus on waste in coronavirus relief programs seems less like diligent government oversight than political games.
That goes doubly for the US Postal Service, another priority, which the GOP is intent on "making profitable" because they are, at bottom, not so big on government doing stuff that might help people, TBQH.
And if that wasn't clear enough, the National Archives is clearly in Comer's sights after first handing Trump's comms over to the House January 6 Select Committee, and then participating in the investigation into documents stolen by the former president on the way out the door.
The Committee will continue its oversight of the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) management of government records and ongoing records processing backlogs. This oversight includes how NARA preserves records, including classified records, at the end of a presidential administration.
The National Archives is one of the executive agencies whose statutory authorization has lapsed, something which Comer professes to be very concerned about. Other programs with lapsed authorizations include the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Office of Government Ethics, and the DC Tuition Assistance Grant Program. Nice internal ethics watchdog agency ... shame if anything were to happen to it.
And while we're on the subject of DC, that constant Republican target comes up multiple times in this document. The DC Tuition Assistance Grant Program helps make up the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition for DC students who, lest we forget, live in no state. It's less than chump change in the federal budget, and the only reason Comer cares about it is because he and his fellow ghouls want to kick DC at every opportunity.
Ditto for federal bureaucrats, whom Comer is targeting not just through oversight of the Merit Systems Protection Board, but through a general priority category described as "The Federal Workforce." Comer already introduced the "Show Up Act" to eliminate telework for federal employees. So it's no mystery what's coming when he promises that "The Committee will ensure expanded telework and remote work policies do not adversely affect agency performance and achievement of mission." And, hey, spoiler alert: The GOP isn't so much for civil service protections anyway. They want a supine federal work force made up of at-will grunts supervised by political appointees — at least when Republicans are in power, anyway.
And when they talk about rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse, let's remember that they're not talking about subsidies for Exxon Mobil. Among his many nastygrams this week, Comer fired off a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan howling about environmental justice grants under the Inflation Reduction Act which, he said, "did nothing to reduce inflationary pressure on everyday Americans." (Tell that to Medicare recipients whose insulin costs are now capped at $35/month, asshole.)
Citing a 2008 study (who was president then?), Comer snarks that "Oversight mechanisms in these programs are lacking, and adequate metrics for applicants must be imposed to avoid funneling money into vague projects that will enable a $100 million slush fund for far-left organizations."
So, let's not kid ourselves that this is going to be anything but a partisan exercise. On the plus side, Comer seems to lack either the organizational skills of Minority Whip Steve Scalise or the brazen theatrics of Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan. As Axios puts it, "Comer's plan is particularly ambitious." Which is perhaps a polite way of saying that this hayseed nitwit is going to waggle his pecker at fifty different targets and wind up spilling his seed on the ground.
One thing's for sure: The next two years are going to be very, very stupid.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.