As the new chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, Waxman will have free rein to investigate, as he puts it, "everything that the government is involved with." And the funny thing is, Waxman can thank the Republicans for the unique set of levers he will hold. Under a rules change they put through in the days when they used the panel to make Bill Clinton's life miserable, the leader of Government Reform is the only chairman who can issue subpoenas without a committee vote. Then Chairman Dan Burton--who famously re-enacted the suicide of Clinton deputy White House counsel Vince Foster by shooting at what he called a "head-like thing" (later widely reported to be a melon) in his backyard--issued 1,089 such unilateral subpoenas in six years. Since a Republican entered the White House, the G.O.P. Congress has been far less enthusiastic in its oversight. Waxman likes to point out that the House took 140 hours of sworn testimony to get to the bottom of whether Clinton had misused the White House Christmas-card list for political purposes, but only 12 hours on prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib.
Saturday, December 9, 2006
140 hours: Remember that number
From a Time article on Henry Waxman (titled, appropriately enough, "The Scariest Guy in Town"):