Senate Democrats

Senate Oversight Highlights Week of April 30, 2007

Congress has the Constitutional responsibility to perform oversight of the Executive Branch and matters of public interest.  Each week the Democratic Policy Committee releases a report summarizing highlights from Senate oversight hearings. Here is the report highligting Senate oversight hearings from the week of April 30, 2007.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007:  Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
“Hearing to Receive Testimony on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)”

  • The Bush Administration has failed to provide the Intelligence Committee with requested information on its proposal to revise the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
  • Senators voiced concern that the current proposal would not preclude the Administration from conducting electronic surveillance outside of the FISA process.
  • Senators called for a law that strikes the right balance between fighting terrorism and protecting privacy rights and civil liberties.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007:  Senate Finance Committee
“The Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit:  Monitoring Early Experiences”

  • While most seniors are pleased with the Medicare prescription drug program, Senators and witnesses described the need to address certain problems with the program.
  • Pharmacies are having difficulty obtaining fair and timely compensation from drug plans.
  • Some seniors continue to have difficulty navigating the complexities of the Medicare prescription drug program.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007:  Special Committee on Aging
“The Nursing Home Reform Act Turns Twenty:  What Has Been Accomplished, and What Challenges Remain” 

  • While much progress has been made in the twenty years since passage of the Nursing Home Reform Act, too many nursing homes still fail to meet the needs of their residents.
  • The regulatory system that governs nursing homes does not measure patients’ quality of care and quality of life because it focuses on providers instead of consumers.
  • Senator Kohl promised continued, vigilant oversight of the nursing home industry and offered concrete steps to improve our nation’s nursing homes.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007:  Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security
“Interrupting Terrorist Travel: Strengthening the Security of International Travel Documents” 

  • After six years of diminishing resources, weak enforcement, misguided policies, stagnantstandards, and no comprehensive oversight by the Republican-lead Congress, the Occupation Safety and Health Act (OSHA) is falling short of its mission to ‘assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women.’
  • Inadequate recordkeeping masks the problem, making it difficult to ascertain the exact number of work-related injuries and deaths.
  • The Bush Administration has not been vigilant in enforcing OSHA.

Thursday, May 3, 2007: Senate Armed Services Committee
“Hearing to Receive Testimony on United States Central Command in Review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2008 and the Future Years Defense Program” 

  • Admiral Fallon agreed that political compromise is critical to success in Iraq.
  • The Iraqi government is falling behind on critical benchmarks.
  • Admiral Fallon testified that we must be “steadfast in our messages” to push the Iraqi government to make the necessary political compromises.

Thursday, May 3, 2007:  Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
“The Internet:  A Portal to Violent Islamist Extremism”
 

  • The Internet has become a key tool that terrorists use for recruiting and planning, allowing the rapid and cheap dissemination of terrorist ideology.
  • Military strategies alone are not sufficient in our efforts against terrorism.
  • Terrorists use the Internet to involve more and more people in their cause by creating virtual networks that are difficult to track.

Thursday, May 4, 2007:  Senate Finance Committee
“Offshore Tax Evasion: Stashing Cash Overseas”
 

  • The abuse of overseas tax havens contributes significantly to the tax gap.
  • Witnesses agreed that international cooperation to ensure transparency and information exchange is the best approach to combating overseas tax fraud.
  • Chairman Baucus urged the Treasury Department to do more to reduce offshore tax evasion.

  To read the whole report please click here.