WASHINGTON— Congressman Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) opening today’s hearing on “Improving Government Accountability and Transparency” by emphasizing transparency and accountability in government are essential. He called for action on commonsense legislation to improve government transparency and accountability and urged Congress to ensure inspectors general are able to conduct robust oversight to better hold individuals accountable for wrongdoing.
Thank you, Chairwoman Maloney, for holding this important hearing today, and thank you to all the witnesses for testifying.
Transparency and accountability in government are essential.
Citizens deserve to know what is really happening in their government, and not months or years later after elected officials and unelected bureaucrats can escape consequences.
Otherwise, the accountability built into elections is not as robust as it should be.
The lack of transparency and politicians avoiding accountability are major factors why the American people feel so disconnected and ignored by Washington.
President Biden’s address to Congress last week and his first 100 days in office is a prime example.
When he campaigned, President Biden promised a “Return to Normalcy” and a commitment to bipartisan solutions.
What we have seen since Inauguration Day—and what we heard about the President’s plans last week—have been anything but that.
We haven’t seen a return to normalcy at all—we’ve seen some of the most radical and costly left-wing proposals this country has ever seen.
President Biden has proposed to spend $6 trillion dollars, mostly on socialist initiatives, ignoring the bipartisan consensus on commonsense policies such as infrastructure.
Government, under President Biden, will control every aspect of our lives.
Meanwhile, many children have not attended full time in-person school since March of last year. Fifty percent of schools have not fully reopened.
Some of the legislation before us today is more of the same partisan agenda.
Such as legislation that was part of Speaker Pelosi’s and Representative Adam Schiff’s “Protecting Our Democracy Act” last year.
That was a 158-page campaign document pretending to be legislation. Commissioned by Speaker Pelosi and introduced during the last weeks before the 2020 election to politically damage President Trump.
It was referred primarily to this Committee.
And it included two bills—the “Inspector General Independence Act” and the “Accountability for Acting Officials Act”—that led to the largest bill before us today, the “Inspector General Independence and Empowerment Act.”
It was referred to eight Democrat-controlled committees last term—not one of which took it seriously, held a legislative hearing, or marked it up.
I sincerely hope that legislation from this bill is not being promoted once more to play partisan politics. Only this time to divert voters’ attention away from the Biden Administration’s border crisis and the Democrats’ other disastrous and debt-crippling policies.
Some of us on this side of the aisle have supported and even cosponsored some of the other legislation before us today.
Including, for example, the “Federal Advisory Committee Transparency Act,” which Ranking Member Comer is the leading Republican cosponsor.
I hope we can focus on those commonsense measures that have real promise for bipartisan consensus. Not the campaign leftovers pulled from the Speaker’s and Mr. Schiff’s “Protecting Our Democracy Act.”
And since some of our business today involves inspector general issues, I hope we can use this hearing to help get to the bottom of what went wrong with the Election Assistance Commission’s inspector general’s office last year.
That office utterly failed to investigate what would seem to be an unlawful, $35 million contract awarded by former California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to then presidential candidate Joe Biden’s main election campaign advisory firm—out of CARES Act funds, of all things.
The EAC’s Inspector General is not the only IG unable to investigate clear wrongdoing.
Many small inspectors general offices do not have the staffing or resources to conduct investigations into substantiated allegations of wrongdoing.
If an inspector general’s office does not have the staffing to conduct rigorous investigations into credible allegations, then it does not have the resources to function.
Inspectors general offices should not be pass-throughs entities with no ability to oversee contractors hired to do the IG’s job.
I am hopeful my Democrat colleagues can stop the partisan attacks on the Trump Administration and focus on ensuring our inspectors general are able to conduct robust oversight to better hold individuals accountable for wrongdoing.
I yield back the balance of my time.