In the first five weeks of the 110th Congress, the new Democratic majority has honored the Senate’s duty to perform oversight of the Executive Branch. Under Democratic leadership, through hearings and investigations, Senate committees are demanding accountability from the Bush Administration.
Iraq. Under Democratic leadership, the Armed Services, Foreign Relations, Intelligence, Judiciary, and Budget Committees have closely examined the Administration’s Iraq strategy. Senators have demanded answers and accountability from high-ranking military and Administration officials, including:
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates;
- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice;
- General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs;
- General George Casey, Army Chief of Staff;
- Admiral William Fallon, CENTCOM Commander; and
- General David Petraeus, Commander of Multinational Force Iraq.
Department of Justice. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee demanded that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales explain the Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program as well as his own views on the Constitution and the writ of habeus corpus. They have also forced the Administration to explain why it summarily fired several U.S. Attorneys, in one case naming Karl Rove’s former opposition research director as an interim replacement.
Defense contracting. Under Democratic leadership, the Armed Services Committee has explored how the Defense Department has “parked” up to $2 billion of appropriated taxpayer dollars in an interagency contracting office at the Department of the Interior. That arrangement allowed the Pentagon to justify current funding levels, to compensate for its own procurement shortcomings, and to hire particular contractors without full competition — at a cost to taxpayers of $23 million in unnecessary fees.
Oil and gas royalties. The Energy and Natural Resources Committee took testimony detailing how “a jaw-dropping example of bureaucratic bungling” at the Mineral Management Service could cost the government more than $10 billion in lost royalty revenue from oil and gas leases.
Rebuilding the Gulf Coast. Led by its Democratic majority, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee traveled to New Orleans to examine rebuilding in the Gulf Coast region and to learn whether the federal government is doing enough to assist those affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.