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ICYMI: House GOP Vows to Hold Biden Interior Dept. Accountable If Republicans Win Midterms

  • OI Subcommittee
ICYMI: House GOP Vows to Hold Biden Interior Dept. Accountable If Republicans Win Midterms
By House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)
FOX News
Oversight is one of Congress’s most important functions. Without robust, regular examinations of government agencies and processes, we run the risk of waste and abuse of taxpayer funding. This is why the House Committee on Natural Resources has an entire subcommittee dedicated to oversight, where we investigate both agencies and organizations at large and specific individuals to ensure above board compliance with federal law.  

When Republicans were in the majority in the 116th Congress, I served as the chairman of this subcommittee, and we investigated the National Resources Defense Council and others for their ties to China. The organizations’ deep ties with Chinese officials suggested potential violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act disclosure requirements. The American people have a right to know if these purported "environmental" groups are advocating for and lining their pockets with funding from one of the world’s top polluters. 

This is exactly the kind of oversight that will remain a top priority for Republicans as part of our Commitment to America. So far this Congress, the oversight team on our committee has requested 193 documents or pieces of information from the Department of the Interior (DOI) and received only 32 substantive responses, leaving 161 outstanding requests. 

In the few responses we have received, DOI has taken weeks, if not months, to transmit anything. For example, a July 20, 2021, letter requested documents related to ethical compliance by July 27, 2021. DOI provided a partial response on Dec. 29, 2021, providing Deputy Solicitor for Water Daniel Cordalis’ signed ethics pledge, interim and final ethics guidance, and his OGE Form 278. DOI took 155 days to produce documents that should have been readily available. 

Or consider how long it took DOI to provide documents that Senior Counselor Janea Scott committed to providing during a Nov. 16, 2021, hearing. Although Scott indicated she was happy to provide her recusal list, DOI didn’t provide the documents until May 20, 2022. In this case, 185 days passed before Scott’s commitment was honored. 

Perhaps we don’t need to look any further than DOI Secretary Deb Haaland’s own words in 2019 when she was still serving in Congress, during a hearing titled: "The Department of the Interior’s Failure to Cooperate with Congressional Oversight Requests." In the 116th Congress, then-Representative Haaland questioned then-Solicitor Dan Jorjani over DOI’s document production. When discussing an incomplete production from DOI, she asked, "Is this simply incompetence, do you think, on the part of the Department, or do you think they are purposefully withholding information from us?" Given DOI’s failure to cooperate with our oversight requests, we ask the same question today.