Republicans won't let Frank testify

Republicans in charge of the House Oversight Committee have rejected a request from Democrats to have Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) testify at a hearing on the financial reform law that bears his name. 

Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) asked on March 25 for Frank to testify at Wednesday's hearing on the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which will explore whether the bill prevents financial firms from believing they are "too big to fail." Cummings is the ranking member of the committee, while Quigley is the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee that is holding the hearing.

They argued that as one of the primary authors of the law, Frank could provide "valuable insight" on Dodd-Frank and its impact on financial markets. They added that Frank said he would be willing to testify.

But in a response dated March 28, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the subcommittee chairman, informed the lawmakers that Frank would not be allowed to testify. Copies of the letters were obtained by The Hill.

Rather, he said that Timothy Massad, the Treasury Department's acting assistant secretary for financial stability, will "provide a Democrat perspective" in his testimony.

"This hearing is not about the legislative intent behind the Act or revisiting the debate surrounding the Act's passage," he wrote.

Neil Barofsky, the outgoing special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) will testify alongside Massad.

The fight does not mark the first time Democrats and Republicans have squared off on the committee over who is invited to hearings. Cummings criticized Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) in January for refusing his request to have a witness from the mortgage servicing industry appear at a hearing on TARP and the foreclosure crisis.

"It's hard for me to understand how we can have today's hearing on the foreclosure crisis without anyone from industry at the witness table," he said in his opening statement at the Jan. 26 hearing.

Frank is the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee; McHenry is also a member.