Panel Republicans want further WH probe

House Republicans said they are “concerned and disappointed” by the administration’s refusal to provide in-depth documentation about healthcare reform meetings, but they stopped short of threatening to flex their subpoena power.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee last month asked the White House’s health reform office to provide in-depth details about meetings it held with outside groups as the healthcare reform law was crafted.

“We are troubled by the secret negotiations which apparently took place between the [White House Office of Health Reform] and outside interest groups, especially given the specific promises of transparency regarding health care reform,” the panel Republicans wrote to Nancy-Ann DeParle, who headed the office before recently becoming deputy chief of staff.

White House counsel Bob Bauer rejected the committee’s request last week.

“To provide all possible information encompassed by your request – ‘every meeting, briefing or telephone call’ – would constitute a vast and expensive undertaking,” Bauer wrote to the committee.

The panel is giving the administration until March 18 to respond to its second request for the information.

“We are concerned because your letter suggests that there have been more secret meetings than we originally thought – otherwise a search for records would be neither ‘vast’ or 'expansive,’” Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans wrote.