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 GowdySunday shows preview: Election integrity dominates as Nov. 3 nears Tim Scott invokes Breonna Taylor, George Floyd in Trump convention speech Sunday shows preview: Republicans gear up for national convention, USPS debate continues in Washington 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 CummingsOvernight Health Care: US won't join global coronavirus vaccine initiative | Federal panel lays out initial priorities for COVID-19 vaccine distribution | NIH panel: 'Insufficient data' to show treatment touted by Trump works House Oversight Democrats to subpoena AbbVie in drug pricing probe Democratic chair subpoenas postmaster general for documents on reforms MORE (D-Md.), also asked Gowdy to subpoena HHS for information related to reports about the agency's use of nondisclosure agreements.