By Molly K. Hooper - 01/12/14 06:00 AM EST
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) in 2014 will pursue the IRS scandal, the deadly Benghazi attack and the botched Fast and Furious operation in what will likely be his last year as the House GOP's chief investigator.
“The administration wraps up investigations. We are done when we are done … there shouldn’t be any sort of effort to load in or unload" before his term limit of six years as the top Republican on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee ends in December.
Rep. John Mica (Fla.), the GOP lawmaker who is the favorite to replace Issa as chairman, said he “supports Mr. Issa and our investigative efforts during the balance of his term. He’s done an excellent job. We have had unprecedented stonewalling. [The administration has been] masters at keeping the committee and Congress at bay.”
Mica told The Hill that he hopes to “have a shot at” the gavel if he gets reelected, and if his party continues to control the House.
A key Republican on the committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah), said that “there’s a lot more to come” on Benghazi, as well as “investigations from healthcare to the IRS to Fast and Furious.”
Ideally, Issa would like to conclude one of the first high-profile investigations launched shortly after he became chairman in 2011: the gunrunning “Fast and Furious” case.
“I'd like to have Fast and Furious be a closed case,” Issa said, pointing out that the courts are still reviewing access-to-documents disputes between Republicans and the administration.
Democrats call the probe — and other Issa-led investigations — bogus.
According to Democratic sources, Issa hasn't tied key figures in the administration directly to each controversy: the IRS targeting of conservative groups; the 2012 Benghazi attack and the botched ObamaCare rollout.
On Fast and Furious, Benghazi and the IRS, “his oversight can be summarized in a fairly simple pattern: asserting crazy conspiracy theories without fact — all of which get subsequently debunked,” a Democratic source told The Hill.
Some Republicans privately have not been thrilled with the Benghazi probe, as legislation sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) that would set up a select committee to look into the terrorist attack has gained 179 GOP co-sponsors. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) does not support the Wolf resolution.
But on the ObamaCare website woes, the media-savvy Issa has attracted many headlines that have kept the heat on the administration.
Asked about his future, the wealthiest lawmaker joked about getting a “six-year extension” to continue on as chairman of the panel. A waiver for Issa — even for two years — is unlikely.
Other term-limited chairmen have appealed to the GOP Steering Committee for a waiver to continue atop their respective perches. Most of those requests have been denied.
Sources close to Issa do not rule out asking for a waiver. The 60 year-old Issa, who will speak at a key GOP dinner in New Hampshire next month, seems to want to keep his options open. Issa has previously run for the Senate and eyed a gubernatorial bid in the blue state of California.
Even though the organizers of the Concord/Merrimack County GOP Annual Lincoln Day Dinner are billing Issa’s keynote appearance as an opportunity to talk about his efforts “to hold the Obama administration accountable,” the appearance has sparked speculation about a White House bid.
Issa said he might open up new investigations this year.
“On my last day in office as chairman, I may very well be sending out a letter opening an investigation, and the next chairman on his first day may have yet another reason to send out a new letter,” Issa said.
Despite his partisan reputation, Issa has worked with Democrats on several bills that he anticipates will make it out of his committee and through the House by year’s end.
The outspoken lawmaker has teamed up with Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly (Va.) to produce the Federal Information Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), which supporters claim could have prevented many of the problems plaguing the rollout of the ACA.
He also crossed the aisle to co-sponsor the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) with Democrats to “standardize federal spending data to make the government more effective and accountable.”
Issa said it is up to the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) as to whether those measures become law.
“At the end of the day, the president has to ask for reforms to come out rather than asking for reform, but then not actually allowing any of them to come out of the Senate," Issa said.