Politics

First direct confrontation between Issa and White House ends in deal for lesser aide

Jonathan Strong Contributor

In the first direct confrontation between top GOP oversight official Darrell Issa and the Obama White House since Republicans obtained the power of congressional subpoena in January, Issa backed off a demand for the testimony of a top ranking official, accepting testimony by a lower ranking aide.

Issa had threatened to subpoena Jacob Lew, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), if he did not appear before the committee at a hearing Thursday.

Frederick Hill, Issa’s spokesman, said the White House, facing the threat, offered a deal and Issa accepted. “The committee was never fixated on a particular person,” Hill said.

Daniel Gordon, the administrator for the OMB’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy, will be testifying Thursday. The hearing is about the president’s draft executive order requiring government contractors to disclose which third party political groups they donate to, but a source from the Obama administration said that’s not what Gordon will testify on.

“No Administration official can testify to deliberations within the Executive Branch about Presidential policies under review or consideration,” the source said. Instead, Gordon will testify “on issues relating to general procurement policy.”

Proponents for the executive order say it is crucial to add transparency to the millions of dollars flowing in and out of Washington, but critics – including the second-ranking Democrat in the House, Rep. Steny Hoyer – have warned Obama could use it to politicize government contracts.

In a May 9 letter announcing the threat, Issa wrote, “We reiterate our request that you [Lew] appear at our May 12 hearing,” but an earlier letter had requested Lew or another OMB aide, Jeffery Zients, deputy director for management and chief performance officer.

“OMB made the correct decision in reconsidering its previous refusal to attend Thursday’s hearing. I look forward to Administrator Gordon’s testimony,” Issa said in a statement.