Watchdogs Prepare

House committees pledge to monitor Obama’s major legislation, with focus on Dodd-Frank
113th Congress / AP

113th Congress / AP


Committees in the House of Representatives will continue to scrutinize the Obama administration’s major legislative achievements during the upcoming Congress, committee oversight plans indicate.

Each standing House committee has to submit an oversight agenda to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on House Administration by Friday, Feb. 15, according to House Rules.

“In this Congress, the House of Representatives will continue its commitment to do everything in its power to execute proper oversight of the executive branch,” said Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.).

Prominent in the plans are oversight of some of the Obama administration’s biggest legislative achievements, including the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory act and Obamacare.

A draft copy of the Financial Services Committee’s oversight plan obtained by the Washington Free Beacon puts Dodd-Frank at the top of the committee’s oversight agenda. The agenda is circulating among members before the markup scheduled for Thursday.

“One of the primary tasks of the committee in the 113th Congress will therefore be to continue to oversee the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act to ensure that these objectives are being met,” the committee’s plan stated.

The draft agenda also says that the committee will monitor the regulations created under Dodd-Frank to ensure “an appropriate balance between prudent regulation and economic growth.”

Securities and Exchange Commissioner (SEC) Daniel Gallagher recently noted that only a third of the Dodd-Frank bill’s regulations are complete. Gallagher, nominated to the SEC by President Barack Obama, also said the bill was fundamentally flawed and failed to address some causes of the financial collapse.

The House Agriculture Committee’s oversight agenda also pledges overview of a portion of Dodd-Frank, specifically the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The committee has jurisdiction over commodities trading.

The Agriculture Committee will pay special attention to the effect of the regulations formulated under Dodd-Frank, according to the agenda.

At the top of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s agenda is Obamacare, formally the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the committee’s oversight agenda on Tuesday.

The agenda pledges to oversee the implementation of the state health insurance exchanges and the effect of the regulations on businesses and individuals.

The Small Business Committee also pledged “Oversight of Federal Regulatory and Paperwork Burdens” in their final report, including those burdens stemming from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created by Dodd-Frank, and Obamacare.

“The growth of the administrative state makes it important for Congress to know what it has wrought,” said Todd Gaziano, a former counsel for the House Oversight Committee and Department of Justice.

“Of course, when the Senate and House are looking into those things, they need to have a legislative purpose and not just a meddling purpose,” Gaziano said.

Congress has multiple options for what constitutes a “legislative purpose,” including examining how the executive is implementing their laws and whether they ought to amend the laws, he said.

One GOP aide expressed exasperation at the administration’s willingness to circumvent the legislative branch’s oversight function.

“One of the primary functions of Congress is to provide oversight on the executive branch,” the aide wrote in an email, quoting the New York Times.  “Unfortunately, as we saw in the president’s first term, circumventing lawmakers is something that is becoming ‘an increasingly deliberate pattern by the administration.’”

Andrew Evans   Email Andrew | Full Bio | RSS
Andrew Evans is an assistant editor at National Affairs and a former reporter for the Washington Free Beacon, where he covered government accountability and healthcare issues.

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