During Monday’s House Oversight hearing, GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy ripped Dem Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton for suggesting the recent incident involving Omar Gonzalez hopping the White House fence and running into the White House could be be a direct result of sequestration.
The hearing was held after multiple issues involving the Secret Service, including the aforementioned fence hopper and the Washington Post report about the service’s response to gunshots fired at the White House in 2011.
Norton asked Secret Service director Julia Pierson questions about the effects of sequestration on the Secret Service, suggesting that the protection agency is down a few hundred agents since the sequester was put into effect. Pierson responded, telling the congresswoman the protection agency is down 550 employees from their “optimal level.” (RELATED: Ranking Member Leaves Hearing To Do MSNBC Hit)
Gowdy, the South Carolina freshman congressman, chastised Norton for the mere mention of it.
“I have some colleagues who are absolutely obsessed with sequestration. We can’t have any hearing without it coming up,” he said. “But you’re not going to sit here and tell us that sequestration is the reason why your agency did not find evidence of the shooting, are you?”
“No, I am not,” responded Pierson.
Gowdy carried on, telling Pierson he was “stunned” sequestration was even brought up. (RELATED: Secret Service Was Concerned For Years That White House Fence Was Not Secure)
At the end of his time, Gowdy, who chairs the ongoing Benghazi select committee, told the Secret Service director the whole situation boiled down to doing a thorough walkthrough of the White House premises and “processing a crime scene.”
“This is just processing a crime scene, director, this is not high math. It is processing a crime scene. You actually don’t need 18 weeks of training to be able to do that. You just need to walk around.”
Later in the hearing GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis asked Pierson how many agents accompanied her to the hearing Tuesday. She responded, saying 12 senior managers came to the hearing with her.
DeSantis told Pierson her agency had originally requested 18 attendees to the hearing, adding that “it cuts against this idea that we’re at a manpower shortage.”