Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is going after the White House for directing agencies to ignore oversight requests from individual members of Congress.
Lawmakers regularly request information from agencies on policies or practices, but President Donald Trump’s administration directed agencies not to respond to requests from individual members of Congress, something Grassley says is detrimental to government transparency.
“Shutting down oversight requests doesn’t drain the swamp, Mr. President,” Grassley wrote in a letter to the White House dated June 7. “It floods the swamp.”
Grassley, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, said that blocking requests from rank-and-file members of Congress is contrary to the principles of government oversight.
The White House Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) directed agencies to not respond to oversight requests that didn’t come from a full committee in a May 1 memo from Acting Assistant Attorney General Curtis E. Gannon.
The directive effectively blocks Democratic lawmakers from receiving answers to questions related to the Trump administration’s execution of the law.
“Individual members of Congress, including ranking minority members, do not have the authority to conduct oversight in the absence of a specific delegation by a full house, committee, or subcommittee,” OLC said in the memo.
The policy was designed “to accommodate the requests of chairmen, regardless of their political party,” a White House spokesman told Politico. Requests that come from individual lawmakers, not committees or subcommittees, are “non-oversight” requests, according to the White House.
“This is nonsense,” Grassley said of the White House’s argument.
“I respectfully request that the White House rescind this OLC opinion and any policy of ignoring oversight request from non-Chairmen,” Grassley wrote in his letter.
Grassley said that the policy “harms not just the members who happen to be in the minority party at the moment, but also, members in the majority party who are not currently chairmen.”
“It obstructs what ought to be the natural flow of information between agencies and the committees, which frustrates the constitutional function of legislating,” Grassley said.
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