Oversight

A weekly rundown of the latest efforts of lawmakers to scrutinize the actions of the executive branch.

•House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (6/13) — Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters on Wednesday to request information regarding a voicemail left by a department official to a member of Congress.

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In the voicemail, the official suggested that the member contact the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the governor’s office in opposition to California’s requested Clean Air Act waiver.

“It is not an appropriate use of federal resources to lobby members of Congress to oppose state efforts to protect the environment,” said Waxman in the letter. “At the very least, [the official’s] call suggests the presence of an improper hidden agenda.”

“[S]uch action is clearly not a violation of … anti-lobbying restrictions,” the Department responded. “[The Department of Transportation] contacted members … to inform them of the pending petition so they could consider providing formal comment to EPA.”

In a follow-up letter, Waxman added, “The partial description of the Department’s efforts … demonstrates the need for a thorough examination of the facts.”

•House Ways and Means Committee (6/13) — Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) is lamenting the Department of Treasury’s failure to label China a currency manipulator by delaying the release of its annual report until after U.S.-China trade talks.

“We made it clear … that we do not believe China abides by the rules of trade,” said Rangel in a letter to Treasury. “[W]e intend to take prompt legislative action in Congress and urge the Administration to act on our recent Section 301 petition against China’s currency manipulation.”

•Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (6/11) — Sens. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) sent a letter earlier this week to the Department of Homeland Security demanding answers regarding an immigration raid in New Haven, Conn.

“... while it is our understanding that the enforcement action ... in New Haven was part of a nationwide initiative to target and apprehend individuals with final orders of removal, we have received reports that only 4 of the 31 individuals who were detained had deportation orders,” the lawmakers wrote.

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