House Oversight Democrat says he will advise administration not to testify before committee

C.J. Ciaramella Contributor
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Democrats in the House Oversight Committee are in full revolt against Republican Chairman Darrell Issa, so much that one Democrat said he will urge members of the Obama administration not to testify before the committee.

Today during a meeting of the technology subcommittee, Democrat Gerald Connolly said, “I’m going to advise the [Obama] administration to decline all requests by the Majority to testify before this Subcommittee and the full committee until this matter is resolved.”

The Oversight Committee is the chief investigative body of the House and one of the most powerful committees in Congress. As Oversight chairman, Issa has the power to request or subpoena witnesses, including members of the executive administration. Minority members of the committee may request witnesses, but they can be approved or denied at the chair’s discretion.

Democrats object to Issa’s interpretation of the committee rules, specifically him appointing minority witnesses, something they say is unprecedented and should be left to to the minority party. They also claim the majority Republicans are not posting the names of their witnesses 24 hours in advance, which is required under the committee’s rules.

A statement from the House Oversight Committee press office called the Democrats’ actions obstructionary: “If committee Democrats are encouraging the administration to decline all witnesses, how does obstruction advance legitimate government oversight?”

Ranking Maryland Democrat member Elijah E. Cummings and seven other minority members also released a letter to Issa today decrying his actions.

“This unprecedented new policy undermines the integrity of our Committee by impairing the ability of minority Members to participate in its important work. No previous Chairman of this Committee has ever issued such an extreme edict, and we are aware of no other House or Senate Committee with a similar policy,” part of the letter reads.

Connolly’s office did not return requests for comment.