GOP puts oversight of Obama into high gear

Republicans are putting congressional oversight of the Obama administration into high gear ahead of the 2012 elections.

Following a recent promise by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) “to do a better job of holding [President Obama] accountable,” the White House was in the GOP’s crosshairs this week on two highly controversial issues: Solyndra and Operation Fast and Furious.

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Two-dozen House Republicans pressed Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday to invalidate a 2011 Energy Department restructuring agreement that ensured private investors who agreed to inject more capitol into failed solar firm Solyndra would be repaid ahead of the taxpayer if the company collapsed.

The day before, a bevy of GOP lawmakers on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee grilled Holder for four hours over his role in the botched gun tracking operation Fast and Furious, which oversaw the sale of nearly 2,000 guns to known and suspected straw purchasers for Mexican drug cartels in the southwest and may have contributed to the murder of a federal agent.

The hearings this week come in the aftermath of a speech Boehner delivered to the Republican think tank, the Ripon Society, in which the top House Republican said his majority needs to hold a tougher line when it comes to oversight of the White House.

“He’s clearly trying to make this about everything other than his own records, so he’s going to beat up on the Congress and do a lot of other things,” said Boehner last week ahead of Obama’s State of the Union address.


“Oversight is there to drive a message to help educate members and educate others. When you look at all the policies coming out of this administration, we need to do a better job of holding them accountable and telling the stories about how these policies are damaging the private sector’s ability to create jobs."

He continued, "The Democrats are going to call this partisan politics, election-year activities. But there are facts here. The facts are that these policies are getting in the way of creating jobs.”

Led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Republicans have unrolled nearly a year’s worth of oversight efforts and criticisms of the Obama administration on Fast and Furious with varying degrees of success. And for the past five months the GOP has launched into the White House over the $535 loan guarantee.

But the drumbeat on both issues, which have been described by conservatives as potential scandals, has waned in recent weeks.

Republican strategists told The Hill that voters can expect both issues to gain more traction as the November polls approach and the GOP’s dogged attempts to paint a disastrous picture of the Obama administration steadily increase.

“The heat on these issues is only going to increase,” said Matt Mackowiak, a GOP strategist and founder of Potomac Strategies Group. “I don’t think it’ll play in a lot of states but I think you’re going to see it more on a national level."