Dem: It's time to call off hearings

A Democratic member of Congress is urging her colleagues to halt their hearings and committee activities during the government shutdown.

Rep. Jackie Speier (Calif.) said Wednesday that congressional committees should cancel their hearings until lawmakers can reach a funding deal.

“I think it would be appropriate for this committee and the other committees to shut down during this shutdown so that we feel the complete and utter efforts being made to not function in an adequate fashion,” Speier said at the beginning of a House Oversight subcommittee hearing.

Many congressional committees delayed or canceled their hearings beginning Tuesday, when the lights went out at many offices around the government. Those cancellations stretched into Wednesday.

Other panels, though, have decided to continue holding their previously scheduled hearings on everything from freight transportation to a disgraced former Environmental Protection Agency official.  

Speier said that she recognized that her Wednesday hearing called for witnesses to travel long distances, making a last-minute cancellation difficult.

The federal shutdown has led to cutbacks around congressional office buildings, forcing staffers and hearing witnesses to contend with long security lines and shuttered conveniences, like coffee shops and ice cream stands.

Many staffers around the Capitol have been furloughed, as have hundreds of thousands of other federal officials whose work is not deemed absolutely necessary to protect health and safety.