Oversight chairman threatens to subpoena HHS for withholding information

Oversight chairman threatens to subpoena HHS for withholding information
© Greg Nash

Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyCummings announces expansion of Oversight panel's White House personal email probe, citing stonewalling Pelosi says it's up to GOP to address sexual assault allegation against Trump Our sad reality: Donald Trump is no Eisenhower MORE (R-S.C.) said Monday the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has failed to fully cooperate with requests for information from his committee, threatening to subpoena the agency. 

Gowdy wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar Monday that his agency has taken a "posture of nonchalance" to requests from his Oversight and Government Reform Committee. 

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"Rather than work in good faith to accommodate the committee's oversight and investigative requirements and constitutional prerogatives, and despite the committee's effort to accommodate HHS's legitimate interests, the department has missed mutually-agreed deadlines, produced meager and incomplete sets of information (much of which is available publicly), and taken a posture of nonchalance with respect to the committee's requests," Gowdy wrote. 

"The department's pattern of nonresponsiveness and wanton disregard for the committee's requests for information undermines our ability to perform our oversight duties of the department and its programs. 

The committee has requested a number of documents from the agency, including information on cost-sharing reduction payments and the agency's response to the opioid epidemic.  

Gowdy said the department hasn't provided any compelling reason for why it's withholding documents from the committee. 

"This creates the appearance the department's legislative affairs function has fallen into a state of permanent disrepair," he wrote. 

He said the agency must either comply with its requests by Feb. 5 or give a legitimate, legal basis for withholding information from the committee, or face a subpoena. 

The committee's ranking Democrat, Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsCummings: 'No doubt about it' Trump is a racist Cummings asks prosecutors about decision not to charge Trump in hush money probe DHS chief to Pelosi: Emergency border funding 'has already had an impact' MORE (D-Md.), also asked Gowdy to subpoena HHS for information related to reports about the agency's use of nondisclosure agreements.