House Panel Calls to Defund Federal Agencies That Stonewall Congressional Probes

Biden administration accused of defying congressional authority by being reluctant to comply with legitimate oversight requests.

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are calling for budget cuts to federal agencies that refuse to cooperate with lawmakers’ investigations, warning that failure to discipline agencies that deny oversight-related requests risks setting a dangerous precedent for stonewalling future probes.

Led by Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, the GOP lawmakers called on the House Appropriations Committee to leverage the power of the purse to force the executive branch to turn over documents and information in response to congressional oversight requests, according to a May 3 letter addressed to Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who chairs the Appropriations Committee.

The GOP lawmakers accused the Biden administration of defying congressional authority by being reluctant to comply with legitimate oversight requests.

“Agency heads appointed by President Biden, and at times, the White House itself, have repeatedly defied congressional authority to conduct oversight over the operations of the executive branch and how the Administration is carrying out its duties under the law,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter while accusing various federal agencies of responding to House Oversight requests with “reluctance, recalcitrance, and outright obstruction.”

Stonewalling Probes

The letter lists a number of examples of alleged obstructive behavior on the part of Biden administration agencies.

In one example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was singled out for providing limited documents and communications regarding the FDA’s response to the infant formula crisis.

The FDA has faced criticism over its response to a nationwide shortage of baby formula in 2022, with the agency itself acknowledging various shortcomings that exacerbated the shortage, including a delayed response to whistleblower complaints about a baby formula manufacturing facility.

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In another instance cited in the letter, the U.S. State Department failed to provide documents and communications related to taxpayer funds going to the United Nations for the purpose of serving the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) agenda. The ESG movement has faced backlash from conservatives, and others, who allege that it’s rooted in leftist or even neo-Marxist political advocacy and targets industries like fossil fuels or encourages taking progressive positions on big social issues like transgenderism.

Controversy around ESG and its impact on U.S. businesses was also the subject of a request to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for various documents related to its actions regarding regulatory proposals around the ESG phenomenon.

The SEC, which the letter says provided only “limited responsive documents after significant pressure” from the Oversight Committee, has been criticized for giving special privileges to ESG activists, reducing oversight of proxy firms, and proposing rigid ESG mandates that burden manufacturers without benefiting investors.

“It is well past time for Congress to leverage its authority by using the power of the purse to compel compliance with oversight,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

They called on the Appropriations Committee to use the power of the purse to hold government agencies accountable by withholding funding in the Fiscal Year 2025 budget from those agencies that have failed to cooperate with oversight investigations.

“Federal agencies obstructing meaningful congressional oversight should have their budgets cut,” Mr. Comer, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement.

The Epoch Times has reached out to the White House and to the House Appropriations Committee with a request for comment.

Defunding ‘Woke’ Programs

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the primary authority to raise and spend money, known as the “power of the purse.”

Conservatives have long argued that vast swathes of the federal government have been captured by the progressives over the years, with billions in taxpayer dollars being channeled to fund left-leaning agendas.

Some House Republicans have sought to use the constitutionally appointed congressional power of the purse to defund certain “woke” programs through the appropriations process.

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) questions witnesses in a hearing of the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington on Feb. 28, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) questions witnesses in a hearing of the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington on Feb. 28, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Last year, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) led a group of House Republicans in launching a new Anti-Woke Causus whose aim was to “root out all far-left political programs from the federal government.”
In a series of letters to House appropriations leaders, Mr. Banks and his colleagues identified various “woke” programs and initiatives in 2024 spending bills and called for them to be defunded.

Each letter flagged examples of “woke” offices or policies that were funded in the prior year’s spending bills and called for those “and all programs that discriminate based on race, gender, and sexual orientation or seek to disparage our nation’s core ideals and history [to] be decreased to $0” in the 2024 versions of the bills.

The effort to defund “woke” programs saw some success, with various “anti-woke” amendments ending up included in the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, such as suspending the Navy Digital Ambassador Program, which used drag queen videos in its recruitment efforts.

“We saw today that the open amendment process gives anti-woke legislators the chance to defund and eliminate radical-far left programs in the federal government,” Mr. Banks said in a statement at the time.In a more recent initiative, Mr. Banks introduced an initiative to defund National Public Radio (NPR), accusing the station of being a “liberal looney bin” and calling on Congress to stop “spending other people’s hard-earner money on low grade propaganda.”

NPR did not respond to a request for comment.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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