WASHINGTON, DC - Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD), along with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Whip James Clyburn, Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, and Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, held a press conference this morning to discuss their continued efforts to make government more accountable and transparent. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
"For six years, the Bush Administration enjoyed virtually unfettered and unchecked power over our federal government - because one of the most complicit, complacent Congresses in history abdicated its constitutional obligation to conduct oversight.
"Last November, the American people voted for a new direction -and Democratic Majorities that would challenge the Administration, when necessary.
"In 1993-94, when both houses of Congress and the Presidency were controlled by the Democrats, the House Government Operations Committee held 135 oversight or investigative hearings. In 2004-2005, under unified Republican government, the panel held just 37.
"Thankfully, today is a new day in Congress. The days of see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil are over.
"The new Democratic Majority is doing the job the American people expect and deserve. We have held more than 100 oversight hearings in only the first two-and-a-half months of the 110th Congress.
"In stark contrast, last week, the chairman of the Republican Conference, Adam Putnam of Florida, suggested that we revert to the ways of the previous Republican Congresses. He said: "We could vote for a clear wartime supplemental before supper tomorrow."
"Congressman Putnam is absolutely correct. We could vote for a clear wartime supplemental before supper tonight. But if we did, we would NOT be doing our jobs.
"Thus, this Administration, which has made repeated, egregious misjudgments in implementing its Iraq policy - will NOT get its wish: yet another multi-billion dollar wartime supplemental spending bill that, as the President put it, has "no strings attached."
"I think the American people realize that we are where we are in Iraq today due in large part to an unchecked executive branch that was never asked to justify its policies or forced to explain its errors - measures that would have enabled us to make course corrections and succeed.
"So today, we are here to reiterate that the United States Congress will no longer be a potted plant or signer of blank checks - whether the issue is the war in Iraq, the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina, the FBI's abuse of national security letters, the firing of United States Attorneys, or the unconscionable treatment of our veterans at Walter Reed and other military hospitals."