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Blog Post | March 14, 2019

Coalition Asks Pelosi: Make Ways & Means Committee Do Its Job

Congressional Oversight

Yesterday a coalition of good government and progressive groups sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi urging her to “to take every available step to ensure that the House Ways and Means Committee fulfills its Constitutional obligation to provide stringent oversight.”

You wouldn’t think such a letter would be necessary. Given the broad public outcry at different rules for the rich and everyone else, you would think a Democratic Party seeking to reclaim the mantle of populism would naturally pursue opportunities to discover the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of tax evasion.

Or how Americans generally, and Medicare particularly, pay too much for their health care coverage due to greed running rampant from Pharmacy Benefits Managers to Big Pharma itself. Or many other issues, as we lay out here.

And you would also think that after spending most of his more than 30 years in Congress in the minority, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal would be eager to generate headlines by conducting vigorous oversight. That’s surely been the case with the House Financial Services Committee under Chairwoman Maxine Waters, which has made waves by oversight of Wells Fargo, credit rating agencies, Trump CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger, and so much more.

Yet Richard Neal… has been different. Last October the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Pelosi believed that “demanding the president’s tax returns `is one of the first things we’d do — that’s the easiest thing in the world. That’s nothing,” Pelosi told The Chronicle’s editorial board in an hour-long interview.”

Well, for Neal, it… hasn’t been easy.  Neal has not yet requested Trump’s tax returns — and he has indicated that when he finally does make a request, it will likely exclude the 500 or so companies that make up Trump’s business “empire.” In other words, Neal is not committed to requesting what Washington tax policy guru Steve Rosenthal has noted would hold many of the most revealing aspects of Trump’s returns.

For two and a half months the Revolving Door Project has been expressing concerns with Neal’s sluggishness. And as we have catalogued in our proposed committee oversight agenda, the Ways & Means Committee slothfulness despite having enormous opportunities before it to shine a light on how the Trump Administration is empowering corporate criminals to steal from the American people and the US Treasury Department.

If ever a time called out for a muckraking Ways and Means Committee, it’s 2019. It is time for Speaker Pelosi to heed our call for her to shine a light on Neal’s inaction and push him to do better with his famously powerful Committee.

Congressional Oversight

More articles by Jeff Hauser

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