Republicans are likely to urge the Obama administration not to shred documents as they transition to the House majority.
Before the election, GOP officials on Capitol Hill privately discussed the issue but refrained from publicly tackling it, not wanting to assume what would happen on Election Day. Now that Republicans will control the House, the shredding matter will move front and center.
No one is accusing the Obama administration of destroying documents, but Republicans are expected to try to ensure that all records — on a range of issues — are kept intact.
Darrell West, a political scientist and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, said Republicans likely will formally ask the administration not to shred or delete any relevant documents that could be requested in a congressional probe.
“That’ll happen right away, because they want to make sure that the documentary record is preserved so that they have something to investigate,” said West.
Armed with the House majority, Republicans next year will enjoy subpoena power — something they have not had in four years.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), poised to become chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, worked closely with the media in the 111th Congress.
Earlier this year, when it was pointed out by a reporter that he didn't have subpoena power, Issa responded, “I have you.” Issa then singled out other reporters in the hallway, saying, "I have him, and her, and him."
John Wonderlich, the policy director for the Sunlight Foundation — a nonpartisan group that promotes government transparency — said Republican-led investigations may be initiated more slowly than expected, because the party doesn’t want to be seen as too aggressive.
“[Asking for the retention of documents] is the sort of thing that wouldn’t surprise me at all, but as an opening volley that could be seen as really aggressive,” said Wonderlich. “And immediately, both sides are going to be posturing to look like the reasonable ones with the open hand. So it’s not like it’s going to be open season right away.”