November 30, 2012

MARK TAPSCOTT: Why Jeff Miller Could Be MVP in Congress.

Oversight is hard and tedious, but it is the most vital work of every senator and representative. It requires time and smart, experienced, bare-knuckles players on congressional staff. Too many members can’t be bothered.

Miller’s eruption was sparked by continued VA evasions about how much it spends on employee conferences like the two Orlando, Fla., events last year that featured an amateurish but tax-paid video parody of Gen. George S. Patton.

The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, which the Florida Republican chairs, has now received three wildly divergent estimates from VA of its total spending on such events, ranging from $20 million to $100 million in 2011.

The third VA figure of $86 million was presented at Wednesday’s hearing. Miller’s exasperation was clearly evident when VA’s No. 2 official, W. Scott Gould, couldn’t explain the variation among the estimates.

Instead of merely venting his anger, Miller responded to the VA obstacles by declaring, “The truce is over. Expect much more oversight from this committee.”

Chairmen across the House should be saying the same thing.