Democrats fear he will become their arch nemesis, but basking in the glory of a Republican tsunami in the House, House Oversight Committee chairman-elect Rep. Darrell Issa downplayed the vast new power of subpoena he will be assuming come January.
“My job is to make the president a success,” the California congressman said on a conference call with reporters, adding that his oversight of the executive branch will help eliminate waste, fraud and abuse.
But while trying to keep his image in check, Issa made clear his plans on several important issues that will have big impacts.
His first priority will be ensuring the Obama administration answers every letter he sent them requesting information during the last Congress.
“First and foremost we’re gonna ask that all the letters we’ve sent…that we get answers to them. And I expect many of them will have information coming to us well before I get sworn in in January,” Issa said.
That’s a lot of letters, and some of them had some rather interesting questions in them.
Issa also vowed to dig deeper into the discounted mortgages Countrywide Financial Corp. offered to key lawmakers.
“That’s a scandal that isn’t finished yet,” Issa said in a rare departure from his conspicuously subdued tone.
Issa said a top priority would be “figuring out Freddie and Fannie should continue existing as they are,” given that the two government backed financial giants continue to suck billions of dollars from the federal teat.
“I want to end earmarks as we know it,” Issa said. “I want to make sure money is distributed based on a system that makes sense. But more importantly, much of what has been known as earmarks is money that never should have been spent to begin with.”
Issa made a point of noting that other committees would be in the investigation business, too. For instance, he said the House Science Committee will have primary jurisdiction on the so-called “Climategate” scandal where top global warming scientists are accused, based on a document dump of their e-mails, of tilting the scales in their scientific investigations.
“In a lot of cases, we’re a support organization to other committees of jurisdiction,” Issa said.