Oversight

• SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE: (10/1/08) — Ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) praised the IRS for increasing its scrutiny of tax-exempt colleges and universities. Grassley has long sought to hold nonprofit organizations such as schools and hospitals to account for meeting the obligations that come with tax-exempt status. “This questionnaire is overdue. Colleges and universities should be much more transparent about their activities, just as tax-exempt hospitals are being asked to do,” Grassley said.

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• HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE: (9/30/08)
— Following up on a July Telecommunications and the Internet subcommittee hearing, full committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) sent letters to the senior in-house lobbyists at AT&T, Verizon and Qwest Communications requesting additional information on a variety of issues, including Federal Communications Commission oversight, voice-over-Internet-protocol telephony, fiber optics deployment and telephone number portability.

• HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: (9/29/08) — Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), with Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), who chairs the Commercial and Administrative Law subcommittee, demanded a special counsel be assigned to investigate allegations of political interference in the firing of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006. Reacting to a report issued by the Justice Department’s inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility, Conyers and Sanchez call for further investigation. “We assume that Attorney General [Michael] Mukasey will heed the report’s call for further investigation, including determining whether criminal offenses were committed, and urge him to appoint a special counsel from outside the Justice Department to work with the Inspector General so the investigation will have the credibility and independence that it needs,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

• SENATE AGRICULTURE, NUTRITION AND FORESTRY COMMITTEE: (9/25/08) — Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and 29 colleagues wrote Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer recommending that his department strengthen an interim regulation, which took effect Tuesday, requiring meat to carry country-of-origin labeling. “Producers and consumers have waited long enough and deserve a common sense rule that accomplishes the goal of letting them know where their food products come from,” the letter says.

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