Turns Out Republicans Do Believe In Oversight. You'll Never Guess When!

Republicans have awakened from their four-year nap and realized that a functioning government is good actually. Well, not when it comes to Congress itself — they're still trying to blow up the economy and block all State Department nominees. But they'd like the White House to go back to normal now, please, and let them get on with the very important business of congressional oversight.

In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland flagged by Axios, 19 Republican senators demand that he rescind a 2017 memo from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) which opined that oversight power was vested solely in committee chairs, so the executive branch could disregard any requests for information from the minority party. Trump cheerfully flipped the bird to all Democratic oversight efforts, reasoning that they weren't the boss of him because they didn't have the gavel. And then in 2018, when they took back the House, he announced that "We're fighting all the subpoenas. These aren't, like, impartial people. The Democrats are trying to win 2020."

And for the most part, Republicans did fuck all about it. Sure, Chuck Grassley sent a grouchy letter describing the OLC memo as "nonsense" and reminding the White House that "every member of Congress is a Constitutional officer, duly elected to represent and cast votes in the interests of their constituents." But Republicans never used their majority power to help Democrats get information out of the executive branch, and they barely blinked when Bill Barr's minions dummied up another OLC memo in 2019 saying that the White House could treat oversight requests from minority members like mere FOIA requests.

But now that a Democrat is in the White House, they're singing a different tune. They'd like those OLC memos rescinded pronto, describing them as "based on grounds unsupported by the Constitution. Instead of respecting the separation of powers, the opinion ignores that our system of government vests Congress with all legislative responsibilities."

Suddenly the scales fall from their eyes and they see that the FOIA memo "not only is demeaning to the legislative branch of government but it subjects Ranking Members to a statute broadly intended to provide information access to members of the public."

Yes, the same quisling crew who cheered the White House on as it claimed a magical blanket of privilege covering the entire executive branch and refused to allow testimony in two impeachment hearings has now remembered that congressional oversight is vital, and that full participation by the minority party undergirds our very democracy.

"The Court made no distinction between committee members in the majority or minority party," they wail, citing a Supreme Court decision from 1957. No, they had no interest in this case between 2017 and 2020. But now it is binding precedent that must be scrupulously followed!

"Yet for those in the minority without access to the same information that the majority party can request and obtain from federal agencies under the OLC opinion, performing effective oversight — especially in times of divided government — becomes a futile exercise," they intone solemnly.

Ya think?

In summary and in conclusion, they're getting a lot of blowback for threatening to send the US economy into a recession, and Republicans would like to get back to the fun part of governing, where they hold eleventy million hours of hearings about Benghazi and pretend that Democrats are the real bad guys.



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Liz Dye

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.


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