The incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee plans to put the spotlight on Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonPerez to hit the Sunday shows following election victory Five takeaways from CPAC Clinton: Dems will be 'strong, unified' with Perez MORE.
In an interview with The Hill on Thursday in his Capitol Hill office, Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzTrump's first dinner out in DC: His own hotel DC residents back Utah rep's primary challenger If Democrats want to take back the White House start now MORE (R-Utah) set out a broad agenda that will include hearings on embassy security in light of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead.
Benghazi is now under the jurisdiction of a House select committee, but Chaffetz indicated it is one of several issues spearheaded by outgoing Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) that his panel will continue to monitor — even as Clinton is expected to prepare for a 2016 White House bid.
“Four years of her reign at State is something that we're still going to have to clean up and we have to address. We can't just ignore it,” Chaffetz said.
Chaffetz said probes of the Secret Service, the Justice Department's “Fast and Furious” gun-tracing program and the Internal Revenue Service that began under Issa will be ongoing.
“There are investigations, obviously, that will continue,” Chaffetz said.
Chaffetz suggested his inaugural hearing as chairman could be on the comments from ObamaCare consultant Jonathan Gruber that the healthcare law passed because of voter “stupidity.”
But he's also “leaving open the possibility” to a hearing early in his term on President Obama's unilateral action to change immigration laws.
“It is on everybody's radar screen. I don't know if we would necessarily lead out on it, but we might,” Chaffetz said. “There are bigger, broader issues with immigration and securing the border that I'm sure we will dive into. No doubt about it.”
Chaffetz said that he thinks he can work effectively with Democrats and that he wants to avoid such overtly personal confrontations as marred Issa’s reputation.
“I don't want things to get personal,” Chaffetz said. “I want to be fair. I'm not going to let up on my tenacity or my passion on getting to the truth, but I ultimately want to be fair.”
Chaffetz wants to hold hearings on the number of federal workers on paid administrative leave, something he thinks can be a bipartisan issue.
He cited an example of an Environmental Protection Agency employee who was placed on paid leave — but not fired — after he was caught viewing porn on his computer for several hours a day.
“I can guarantee you we're going to have a hearing about the fact that there are more than 4,000 people on paid administrative leave. Four thousand. We pay these people. It's like a paid vacation. That's not a partisan issue,” Chaffetz said.
Still other potential hearing subjects on Chaffetz's list would be the use of information technology across the federal government, public lands, renewal of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and U.S. Postal Service reform.
While Democrats remain skeptical that Chaffetz will adhere to pledges to take a different approach than Issa, the new chairman thinks he can improve relations with the other side of the aisle.
For one, Chaffetz said he'll try to be more judicious with subpoenas. Issa came under criticism for issuing more than 100 subpoenas without the sign-off from the committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.). At one hearing earlier this year, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen insisted a subpoena was unnecessary given that he had willingly appeared before the House Ways and Means Committee just days earlier.
So far, Chaffetz hasn't heard from the Obama administration since winning the Oversight gavel apart from a congratulatory email from the White House Office of Legislative Affairs.
But starting in January, they'll likely be at odds over the committee's investigations.
For his part, Chaffetz said he hopes he won't even have to issue a single subpoena during his tenure as chairman.
“I hope to never issue one. It's more dependent on the White House than it is on me,” Chaffetz said. “Subpoenas, in my mind, are a last resort.”
But Chaffetz warned he would subpoena documents or witnesses if it appears there's no other way to access them.
“If they are as open and transparent as they claim, I'll never have to issue one,” Chaffetz said. “But if they're going to play games and hide the documents, then we're going to start issuing subpoenas.”