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April 21, 2014

Posts in "Darrell issa"

April 10, 2014

House Oversight Votes to Hold Lois Lerner in Contempt (Video)

irs hearing020 052213 445x296 House Oversight Votes to Hold Lois Lerner in Contempt (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted along party lines Thursday to hold ex-IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress.

The vote, coming as Congress heads out of town for a two-week recess, is the latest chapter in a year-long probe that has sparked some of the fiercest partisan clashes among panel members in recent memory — from cutting off the ranking member’s microphone as he sought to speak to comparing the chairman to Sen. Joe McCarthy, R-Wis.

Full story

March 13, 2014

Republicans Block Democratic Attempt to Force Public Issa Apology on House Floor (Updated) (Video)

DCbuildings 007 120213 445x289 Republicans Block Democratic Attempt to Force Public Issa Apology on House Floor (Updated) (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 8:12 p.m. | Republicans once again blocked a Democratic resolution demanding a House floor apology from Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa for silencing Rep. Elijah E. Cummings last week during an IRS hearing.

The nearly party line vote to table the privileged resolution came after a theatrical display of protest on the floor, with Democrats refusing to give up on the issue.

“This was not just a violation of Mr. Issa’s treatment of Mr. Cummings,” said Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., a freshman lawmaker who introduced the resolution on Thursday. “My resolution was about Mr. Issa’s offense against the House.”

“If we don’t enforce the rules,” Kildee said, “where do we go?”

As Kildee and his Democratic colleagues offered the resolution, they defiantly held pictures of Issa making the throat-cutting motion, displaying the image on iPads, iPhones and paper. A floor procedure kerfuffle, in which a new House precedent may have been established, ensued.

Presiding officer Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, insisted that that “House will not proceed” as long as Democrats continued to hold up their iPads displaying the image.

“Regular order would be putting the iPads down,” Simpson said.

When Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., made a parliamentary inquiry as to where in the House rules it stated members could not hold up iPads, Simpson said the ruling was at the discretion of the chair.

Democrats moaned, but eventually, begrudgingly, put down their iPads and iPhones. (Rules Committee ranking Democrat Louise M. Slaughter quietly held up her phone even after Simpson’s ruling.)

Members continued holding up the pictures that Democrats had printed out, but Simpson wasn’t having that either.

The presiding officer declared that “only the member under recognition can hold up the display,” and eventually, after the theatrics and rules were settled, the Democrats put down their pictures and offered the resolution.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., promptly moved to table it, both sides screamed a voice vote, a roll call vote was ordered, and the House voted 217-173 in favor of tabling the resolution, with six Republicans and four Democrats voting present. (The present votes came from the nine members of the Ethics Committee and Issa. The Ethics Committee may yet have to consider the issue.)

(On Thursday evening, a spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, reiterated Boehner’s continued support for Issa.)

One Democrat, Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, voted with Republicans in favor of tabling.

While Democrats offered the resolution, Cummings quietly sat separated from his Democratic colleagues beside Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va. As the vote took place, Cummings quickly and quietly slipped out of the chamber.

Issa already apologized personally to Cummings, the ranking member of Issa’s panel, last week, and Cummings accepted the apology.

But that’s not enough for many of Cummings’ colleagues.

“Ranking Member Cummings accepted Chairman Issa’s apology, but it is clear that the Chairman has violated House rules and seriously offended a lot of other Members of Congress in the process, and they are not satisfied with the way he is conducting the committee,” a Democratic committee aide told CQ Roll Call.

Democrats could continue to offer similar resolutions, trying to grab more headlines and increasingly paint Issa as a chairman tyrant, but Republicans look poised to just as quickly shelve the resolutions and move on.

Fellow Oversight and Government Reform Committee colleague Gerrold Connolly, D-Va., hopes Democrats continue to press the issue.

“Even if Elijah didn’t want us to do this, this is on behalf of the institution,” Connolly told CQ Roll Call after the vote, adding that he hopes House GOP leaders ultimately decide to push Issa to make amends publicly.

“He privately apologized to Mr. Cummings, then went on Fox News and accused him of having a ‘hissy fit,’” Connolly said. “How sincere was that apology?”

(The “hissy fit” interview was pretaped before the apology, Issa’s office noted last week.)

The House voted on party lines to shelve another resolution condemning Issa’s conduct last week.

Here’s the text of the resolution provided via email by Democratic aides: Full story

March 11, 2014

Issa Issues Report Ripping Lois Lerner

issa 10 051011 445x295 Issa Issues Report Ripping Lois Lerner

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Darrell Issa has apologized to Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking Democrat Elijah E. Cummings for cutting off his mic, but the chairman isn’t changing the course of his committee.

The California Republican issued a 141-page report Tuesday on the involvement of Lois Lerner, the former director of IRS exempt organizations, in the targeting of prospective tax-exempt organizations. Full story

March 9, 2014

Issa: Longing for the Private Sector?

darrell issa sxsw 030914 445x333 Issa: Longing for the Private Sector?

(Grace Dobush/CQ Roll Call)

AUSTIN, Tx.— Rep. Darrell Issa says he is running for re-election, but he may return to the private sector sooner rather than later.

At a panel on entrepreneurship at South By Southwest Interactive, the California Republican expressed a desire to return to his roots as a businessman. “I hope to go back to the private sector soon,” he said in front of an audience of about 100. “Anything I say that can help me today … I came to Congress to burn up a four year non-compete, and I’m still there.”

When asked about it, an Issa spokesman said, ”Congressman Issa views himself first and foremost as an entrepreneur and his experience helps him connect to technology audiences. He is running for re-election this year, but is still an innovator in his heart.” Full story

March 6, 2014

Issa Apologizes to Cummings, but Accuses Him of ‘Hissy Fit’ (Updated)

DCbuildings 007 120213 445x289 Issa Apologizes to Cummings, but Accuses Him of Hissy Fit (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated March 7, 6:20 p.m. | In an interview with his local newspaper, Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa said he has apologized to Rep. Elijah E. Cummings for cutting off his microphone at a Wednesday hearing — although in a separate interview he told Fox News that Cummings had a “hissy fit” and “broke the decorum of the House.”

“Mr. Cummings is a member of Congress who works very hard for his constituents,” Issa told U-T San Diego after the House voted 211-186 on party lines to shelve a resolution offered by Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Marcia Fudge to condemn Issa’s actions.  Fudge also wrote to Speaker John A. Boehner asking the Ohio Republican to strip Issa of his gavel over his treatment of Cummings, D-Md.

Boehner had backed Issa and said he was within his rights to adjourn the hearing. Full story

House Votes to Table Resolution Condemning Darrell Issa

Hours after the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus introduced a resolution condemning Rep. Darrell Issa, Republicans shelved it.

The House on Thursday voted 211-186, on a party line vote, to table the privileged resolution that would have implicated the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee with violating “Clause 1 of Rule XXIII of the Code of Official Conduct, which states that ‘A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, Officer or Employee of the House shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”

Ten members voted “present,” including most members of the ethics committee and Issa.

On Wednesday, the California Republican shut off the microphone of ranking member Elijah E. Cummings as the Maryland Democrat sought to ask a procedural question and make general remarks following IRS official Lois Lerner’s refusal to participate in panel proceedings.

Issa said the committee had already adjourned and Cummings only wanted a chance to “launch into a diatribe,” while Cummings and House Democrats said Issa’s behavior was unbefitting of a committee chairman and disrespectful to the panel’s senior Democrat.

CBC Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, who introduced the resolution condemning Issa, also submitted a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, on Thursday asking that Issa be removed from his chairmanship for his treatment of Cummings, also a CBC member.

But Boehner backed the chairman.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., made the motion to table the privileged resolution.

Congressional Black Caucus Brings Resolution Condemning Issa, Asks Boehner to Take His Gavel (Video) (Updated)

fudge 134 062513 445x296 Congressional Black Caucus Brings Resolution Condemning Issa, Asks Boehner to Take His Gavel (Video) (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:23 p.m. | The chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus brought a resolution to the floor Thursday condemning Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa and asked Speaker John A. Boehner to take his gavel, after Issa cut off Rep. Elijah E. Cummings’ microphone at a hearing Wednesday.

Flanked by CBC colleagues and other Democrats, Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, stood on the House floor to introduce a privileged resolution condemning the California Republican for the “offensive and disrespectful manner in which [he] conducted the hearing” and for “turn[ing] off the microphones of the Ranking Member while he was speaking and adjourn[ing] the hearing without a vote or a unanimous consent agreement.

Within hours, the House voted on party lines to shelve the resolution, with Republicans lining up to back Issa.

Cummings, a CBC member and the top Democrat on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was attempting to ask a procedural question and deliver general remarks at a resumption of a May 2013 hearing to question IRS official Lois Lerner, who again declined to answer questions by citing her Fifth Amendment rights.

Issa’s refusal to allow the Maryland Democrat to engage has set off a new chapter in a running feud between the two senior lawmakers on the panel.

This time, however, Democrats are taking it personally. In addition to the CBC privileged resolution, Fudge sent a letter to Boehner asking that Issa be removed from his chairmanship.

But the Ohio Republican issued a strong defense of Issa Thursday morning at his weekly press conference. Full story

March 5, 2014

Issa, Cummings Feud Boils Over

IssaCummings032613 445x295 Issa, Cummings Feud Boils Over

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The committee dustup between Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa and ranking Democrat Elijah E. Cummings has Democrats and Republicans at each other’s throats and demanding apologies.

On Wednesday, Issa cut off Cummings’ microphone after abruptly adjourning a hearing with IRS official Lois Lerner. Issa spent about 15 minutes asking Lerner questions, even though she made it clear she would be invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. But before Cummings could speak, Issa adjourned the committee.

When Cummings protested and asked for the chance to ask a procedural question, Issa gave him a moment to do so. But when the Maryland Democrat launched into statement attacking Republicans, Issa cut him off.

“We’re adjourned. Close it down,” Issa told committee staff.

Full story

Issa Cuts Off Cummings at IRS Hearing (Updated) (Video)

oversight005 091913 445x294 Issa Cuts Off Cummings at IRS Hearing (Updated) (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo) 

Updated 11:57 a.m. | House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., cut off Rep. Elijah E. Cummings’ microphone and adjourned this morning’s hearing on the IRS while Cummings was still speaking — marking a new low in the pair’s rocky relationship.

The dust-up came at the end of the hearing where IRS official Lois Lerner again pleaded the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify — when Cummings, the ranking member of the panel and a Maryland Democrat, sought to ask a question and make a statement on the IRS inquiry.

But Issa cut off Cummings’ microphone with a hand to the throat gesture as Cummings started to make a statement about Issa’s handling of the investigation instead of asking a question.

Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 11:05 a.m.
Darrell issa

December 23, 2013

Issa’s Quest Continues to Expose HealthCare.gov Security Gaps

Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa is on a quest to prove there are vast security gaps on HealthCare.gov, and he and his staff think they may have just hit a goldmine.

On Dec. 20, the California Republican’s office released selected portions of a Dec. 17 interview between the committee and Teresa Fryer, the chief information security officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

According to the excerpts, Fryer urged her colleagues against issuing authority to operate approval for the website — which is meant to facilitate enrollment into the insurance exchanges mandated by the 2010 health care law — due to potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities. (An ATO order is like a green light to launch a site.)

Additional transcribed excerpts from the committee’s Dec. 4 grilling of Tony Trenkle, the former chief information officer for CMS, could give Issa and his team more fodder: Portions of the interview, obtained by 218, show that Trenkle doesn’t “recall” cautions from Fryer about proceeding with the Oct. 1 launch of the website.

Full story

The House Winner and Loser of the Year — and Other Notable Members’ Highs and Lows

At the end of the first session of the 113th Congress, it’s hard to call anybody much of a “winner,” as no one got close to everything they wanted. Republican leaders had an ambitious legislative agenda that was repeatedly squelched by a rebellious rank and file — or by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s circular file. Democrats hoped for more relevance, given the GOP leadership’s precarious grip on its conference, but Democratic “victories” were mainly a result of Republican meltdowns.

For the power players in the House of Representatives, it was mostly a year of lows, with not-so-very-high highs, and few lawmakers emerged unscathed from the heartburns of 2013. But when 218 took up the daunting task of designating the year’s “winners” and “losers,” it was hard to fit members into that binary, which felt overly simplistic, anyway.

So in the very first, year-end wrap-up post since the blog’s inception, 218 is offering up, for your consideration, one “winner” and one “loser” of 2013 — with a few runners-up. The rest of the the lawmakers profiled here defied those clear-cut characterizations, and are instead viewed through the prism of simply their wins and losses.

In 218′s estimation, the one clear winner of 2013 was …  Full story

December 17, 2013

Issa, Cummings Spat Continues Over HealthCare.gov Docs (Updated)

Updated 5:48 p.m. | Darrell Issa, often referred to as the White House’s antagonizer-in-chief, continues to ramp up his attacks on the HealthCare.gov rollout — in particular over the question of whether the site is secure. But if Rep. Elijah E. Cummings has anything to say about it, in a new mark of how much the Issa-Cummings relationship has soured, Issa will soon be known as a House rules violator.

Issa, the chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform, has been going back and forth with the administration and the panel’s ranking Democrat, Cummings, for quite some time now regarding HealthCare.gov documents. And on Tuesday, things took a fresh turn. Full story

December 13, 2013

Issa and Cummings Relationship Frays Over Obamacare Documents (Updated)

oversight006 091913 445x294 Issa and Cummings Relationship Frays Over Obamacare Documents (Updated)

Cummings, left, and Issa have sparred over Issa’s handling of sensitive documents. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated Dec. 16, 7:10 p.m. | This December, Darrell Issa and Elijah E. Cummings are sending each other letters, not Christmas cards.

The already acrimonious relationship between Republicans and Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reached a fever pitch Friday after the two sides traded several rounds of warring press releases.

Issa, the California Republican and chairman of the panel, broadcast his concerns over the administration’s attempt to block access to HealthCare.gov documents, while Cummings, the ranking Democrat from Maryland, blasted Issa for issuing an “unnecessary and confrontational subpoena” while Cummings was away in South Africa at Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

First, on Friday, Cummings sent an eight-page letter to Issa asking him to “abandon” his subpoena for security documents from HealthCare.gov contractor MITRE. Then Issa sent out two press releases — separated by about three hours — dinging the Department of Health and Human Services for requesting that contractors ignore subpoena requests from the committee and praising the decision of the contractors to instead ignore the administration and turn over the documents.

Not that either side got the other’s press releases; in a mark of how well the Republicans and Democrats work together, they don’t include each other on their emailing lists — “if that tells you anything,” as one Democratic committee staffer put it.

The spat was ignited by an HHS missive to Issa noting they did not trust him to not leak sensitive security documents. HHS also said it had directed the security contractors to not comply with Issa’s subpoena.

In his letter, Cummings very publicly wondered why Issa would need his own copies of the documents, given that HHS made the documents available at its headquarters for the panel on Dec. 6. A Democratic committee staffer told CQ Roll Call on Friday that HHS has ”not not given access to everything; they just want to make sure that sensitive documents are treated sensitively.”

Cummings also hit Issa for issuing the MITRE subpoena while he was in South Africa, mourning Mandela’s death.

“I was surprised to learn that you had issued a subpoena while I was away demanding that MITRE produce copies of unredacted Security Control Assessments by noon today,” the Marlyand Democrat wrote on Friday.

Cummings seemed to conclude that the only reason Issa would want his own copies of the documents would be to leak them to the public.

“Since you became Chairman of the Committee in 2011, you and your staff have engaged in a reckless pattern of leaking sensitive information and documents to promote political narratives that turn out to be inaccurate after further investigation,” Cummings wrote, referring to incidents when Issa leaked information on the “Fast and Furious” investigation, the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the IRS political targeting scandal.

But a GOP committee aide told CQ Roll Call on Friday that Issa leaks this information “because people like Elijah Cummings are misleading the people about what that information contains.”

Indeed, the aide said the reason Democrats were so mad about Issa leaking information in the past was “somewhere between them saying false things and getting upset when we call them on it.”

Republicans note that both MITRE and another HealthCare.gov contractor, CCSi, concluded that they had no other choice but to comply with the subpoenas from the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, despite an insistence from HHS that the contractors ignore the request. Republicans said the administration was effectively asking contractors to break the law.

“MITRE’s decision is a rejection of efforts by the White House to obstruct oversight,” Issa said in a release Friday afternoon.

“Americans should be disturbed that this Administration is trying to stop government contractors from providing Congress with documents related to the decision to launch HealthCare.gov while known and serious security vulnerabilities were and still may be present,” Issa also wrote in his release regarding CCSi’s decision to turn over documents.

Democrats say the administration just wanted to review the documents to determine whether they’re sensitive, while Republicans say the administration just wanted to keep the documents out of the public’s eye.

Either way, Republican staffers note that Issa plans to respond to Cummings’ letter, while Democrats note that Republicans have yet to respond to a request for Cummings and Issa to discuss how they’ll treat HealthCare.gov documents internally in the committee.

Update 7:10 p.m.

The spat between Issa and Cummings continued into Monday, with the top Democrats on seven House committees sending a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., urging them to hold an immediate classified briefing with top administration cyber officials regarding the risks associated with disclosing documents related to HealthCare.gov.

In the letter — signed by the top Democrats on the Oversight and Government Reform, Energy and Commerce, Armed Services, Homeland Security, Intelligence, Education and the Workforce, and Ways and Means committees— the Democrats write that they don’t think the documents should have ever been provided to the Oversight and Government committee “without adequate protocols to safeguard their contents.”

“But now that they have,” the Democrats write, “we have an obligation to understand the harm that would be caused if these documents were disclosed. It is reckless in the extreme for Chairman Issa or any member to possess these documents without a full understanding of the extremely sensitive information they contain and the widespread damage that could be caused if they got into the wrong hands.”

On Friday night, Cummings and other top Democrats on the Oversight panel also sent Issa another letter seeking a special meeting to establish committee procedures for handling the documents.

The letter reminded Issa that, under House rules, he can’t share copies of the subpoenaed documents with anyone outside of members or staff until he holds a special meeting to adopt a protocol to safeguard the documents or otherwise seeks approval of the full panel.

December 12, 2013

HHS to Issa: You Can’t Be Trusted With Obamacare Documents

While Republicans continue to characterize HealthCare.gov as a brazen security hazard that could expose personal information to unnecessary risks, the Health and Human Services Department has its own concerns regarding a place of compromised security: the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

On Thursday, HHS wrote a letter to the panel’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., regarding his committee’s request for “unredacted copies of sensitive security testing documents prepared by the MITRE Corporation (MITRE), in connection with HealthCare.gov.”

The HHS assistant secretary for legislation, Jim R. Esquea, signaled that HHS was blocking MITRE from turning over the documents, which have been subpoenaed, over concerns that Issa would — as he has done in the past — leak the documents to the public, potentially giving hackers a road map to the “potential vulnerabilities in the cyber defenses.” Full story

November 22, 2013

Darrell Issa Letterhead Flub Wasn’t First Hill Stationery Snafu — Not by a Long Shot

Rep. Darrell Issa’s name got inadvertently hijacked on Thursday by an outside group wanting to use the California Republican’s cache to boost fundraising numbers.

issa 10 051011 445x295 Darrell Issa Letterhead Flub Wasnt First Hill Stationery Snafu — Not by a Long Shot

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Had Issa, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sanctioned the email from the Armed Forces Foundation, it could have run afoul of House ethics rules, in part because it appeared to have been written on official congressional letterhead. The Ethics Committee doesn’t allow members to solicit funds for private organizations using congressional resources lest it suggest a conflict of interest.

Such concerns predate this week’s flub, though, by at least 50 years. That was when then-Rep. Bob Taft Jr., R-Ohio, introduced legislation to bar “improper” use of congressional stationery. Full story

By Emma Dumain Posted at 3:17 p.m.
Darrell issa, Ethics

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