The Biden White House is taking the offensive against incoming House Republicans and their plans to launch oversight actions once the next session of Congress starts, sending letters through a special counsel informing Reps. James Comer, R-Ky., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, that the administration has no plans at this time to respond to the records requests they have been making.
Special Counsel Richard Sauber, in the letters obtained exclusively by Politico, said the requests are not legitimate under the Constitution because Jordan and Comer have not yet been delegated to head their committees.
Sauber, a top oversight lawyer for the White House, said the administration will operate in "good faith" with members of Congress, but said that oversight demands made during the last session of Congress will need to be restarted in the next session, which starts Jan. 3.
"Should the Committee issue similar or other requests in the 118th Congress, we will review and respond to them in good faith, consistent with the needs and obligations of both branches," he said. "We expect the new Congress will undertake its oversight responsibilities in the same spirit of good faith."
Jordan is expected to head the House Judiciary Committee, with Comer to head the Oversight Committee, but Sauber pointed out that "Congress has not delegated such [oversight] authority to individual members of Congress who are not committee chairmen, and the House has not done so under its current rules."
In a letter on Nov. 18 to White House chief of staff Ron Klain, Jordan warned that his committee "may be forced to compulsory process" to obtain documents that he had requested if the materials were not received when the 118th Congress opens.
Republicans on Jordan's committee, in letters sent to 42 Biden administration officials, including Klain, on Nov. 18, said they will need testimony before Congress on matters including school board threats, border security, and bias claims against the FBI and Department of Justice, reports Reuters.
But White House officials told Politico that according to practice dating back to President Ronald Reagan's administration, ranking committee members, while still in the minority party, are not to jump ahead with their demands that accommodations be made on formal requests in pending investigations.
Jordan and Comer have promised they will investigate the federal government's use of counterterrorism and criminal actions where school board meetings are concerned, the business dealings of President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, and the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
Comer, meanwhile, sent a letter on Dec. 6 to White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan questioning the decisions behind the Afghanistan withdrawal and demanding the White House provide materials no later than Dec. 20.
Further, on Dec. 13, Jordan and Comer sent joint letters to several administration officials demanding materials related to the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing for a response by no later than Dec. 27.
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