Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, encouraged Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) to apply the same level of aggressive oversight to the Trump Administration as he did with the Obama Administration. During the Committee’s first meeting in the 115th Congress to consider its rules, Ranking Member Waters underscored her concern regarding the lack of transparency amongst Republican Committee Members, similar to the Trump Administration.
Below is her statement to the Committee:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am deeply concerned to see that the resolution to adopt the Committee Rules of the 115th Congress make few changes to the workings of the Committee from the 114th Congress. Last Congress, Democrats on this Committee expressed serious concerns with your new, centralized, aggressive investigative powers, which stripped away any real ability for Democrats to have a say in the investigations conducted by this committee. For example: the newly granted unilateral authority to issue subpoenas without consulting with me as Ranking Member and without granting a Committee vote is turning this committee into a dictatorship, not a democracy. History already proves that the subpoena authority was mismanaged and abused. Last Congress, for example, Republicans would constantly bully agencies and staff by threatening them with subpoenas in order to retrieve documents and force people to appear before Congress.
By refusing to allow Committee members to vote on the issuance of subpoenas, and granting that authority to just one individual, we are stripping each and every member of this Committee – except the Chairman – of a core function; that profound responsibility of overseeing the agencies and entities within the jurisdiction of our Committee.
We now have the opportunity to ensure that the same aggressive oversight can be used to hold the Trump Administration accountable. Given this Committee’s track record of engaging in abusive oversight of the Obama Administration, I truly cannot wait to see whether the Chairman will be equally interested in the work of the Trump Administration.
There are some other issues that we will raise today and offer amendments to that will continue to address fairness, accountability, and transparency. We must ensure that we know about any potential conflicts of interest that our witnesses, both governmental and non-governmental, may have. We must ensure that this Committee does not report measures that could present a potential violation of conflicts of interest rules, including those that extend to the President.
Mr. Chairman and Members, in closing, I just want to underscore how disturbing this trend toward consolidation of decision-making authority and lack of transparency has become, not only in our Committee and the House, but also in the new Administration. I hope that you will seriously consider some of the amendments we offer today that would bring accountability, checks, and balances back to the work of this Committee.
Thank you, I yield back.