Taking Control of the House Oversight Committee, Here's What Dems Have Planned

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) speaks to media on Capitol Hill on June 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — Under the leadership of successive GOP chairmen Darrell Issa (Calif.), Jason Chaffetz (Utah) and Trey Gowdy (S.C.) the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee launched high-profile investigations into Operation Fast and Furious, the Benghazi attack, the Clinton Foundation and more.

Poised to control the committee in two weeks — for the first time eight years — incoming Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) told CNN this morning that “skyrocketing” prescription drug prices will be a “very big” agenda item in the 116th Congress.

But Cummings is also planning administration oversight.

“We have control over security clearances. That comes under our jurisdiction. And we noticed that there were a lot of problems with security clearances with regard to Mr. Porter, Mr. Flynn, and others, and Kushner. And so we want to take a look at that,” he said. “But, more importantly, we want to also take a look at this whole effort of voter suppression, because we think a lot of that sort of filters down from the White House.”

Dems haven’t decided which hearings to have first, he added. But Cummings said he isn’t planning to suddenly issue the dozens of subpoenas he sought as ranking member.

“I plan to run our committee like a federal courthouse — courtroom. I want civility. And we will address subpoenas in a very systematic way of those 64,” he said.

Another agenda item is the U.S. Census and its addition of a citizenship question.

Cummings wants Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney to President Trump to come before Congress “where he can tell the American public exactly what he has been saying to Mueller and others, without interfering with the Mueller investigation.”

“He can come in any committee he wants to come to. But I would love — it would be nice if he came before our committee,” he added.

“But the fact is, is that I think this is a watershed moment… Remember John Dean, with regard to the Nixon tapes and the testimony that he provided, he changed the course of America. A lot of people said that he would not — called him a liar and everything else. But the fact is, is that he came forward.”

Cummings said that “more than likely” the committee will “take a look at” whether illegal activity was occurring in the Trump inaugural committee, as federal prosecutors are reportedly probing.

“And, of course, we have got his campaign chairman and his adviser, and then Mr. Flynn, and so many people around him have been already indicted or pleaded guilty. So, there’s a lot to look at,” he said, adding that “the president needs us as much as we need him.”

“And so the president has promised us infrastructure. And he’s got to work with the Democrats to make that happen,” Cummings continued. “And so I’m looking forward to it. He said he wants to do something about prescription drugs. Come on, Mr. President, let’s do it. Let’s get it done. You have said you wanted to do it. I will hold you to that.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) will face off with Cummings as the top Republican on the committee.

Jordan told Fox Business Network last week that “it will be harder obviously in the new Congress but we still have this Congress” to try to achieve some 11th-hour House GOP objectives.

“We need Rod Rosenstein to come in and testify. It’s now been 12 weeks since he talked to subordinates about wearing a wire to record the president and talking about invoking the 25th amendment,” Jordan said, referencing a September New York Times report about the deputy attorney general.