Chaffetz, Obama regs chief spar over water rule subpoena

Chaffetz, Obama regs chief spar over water rule subpoena

Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzCongress's latest hacking investigation should model its most recent Fox News Audio expands stable of podcasts by adding five new shows The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE (R-Utah) pressed President Obama's regulatory chief for subpoenaed documents dealing with a review of a controversial water rule during a hearing Tuesday.

The House Oversight Chairman sparred with Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Administrator Howard Shelanski, asking why he shouldn't be held in contempt for failing to fully respond to the July subpoena.

Shelanski repeatedly referred Chaffetz to OIRA’s legislative affairs office during a Government Operations Subcommittee hearing on transparency at OIRA.


“It is my understanding that we have a very robust ongoing discussion between your staff and their offices and the legislative affair’s office and the general counsel’s office at OMB [Office of Management and Budget] to respond to your requests,” he said.

Chaffetz said he didn't want any more delays, demanding that Shelanski give him a timeline for turning over the documents.

“What’s a reasonable time for your response?” he asked.

“I’m not personally involved,” Shelanski replied.

“What do you mean you’re not personally involved?" Chaffetz asked in disbelief. "You’re in charge of this organization.”

Chaffetz demanded Shelanski identify who should be held accountable for delays in responding to the subpoena.

“Give me some names of the people who are involved,” Chaffetz asked.

Shelanski at first refused, saying he is not personally involved in the negotiations. He finally gave the name of the agency's general counsel when Subcommittee Chair Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) reminded him he’s under oath and had to answer the question.

“I issued a subpoena in July of last year. Why should I not hold someone in contempt?” Chaffetz asked Shelanski.

Republicans have subpoenaed OIRA, demanding documents on how the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) controversial Waters of the United State rule was drafted.

The administration has defended the rule as needed to prevent pollution of smaller waterways like streams. But critics have called it an EPA power grab, asserting it would give the agency unprecedented authority over much of the land in the U.S.