Great stuff by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA 8th), pushing back on the House “Science” Committee (“Science” in quotes because this is more accurately described as the Republicans’ science DENIAL committee) and its bought-and-paid-for-by-the-oil-industry Chair, Rep. Lamar Smith. The point of today’s witch hunt…er, “hearing” was to use House subpoenas to intimidate state Attorneys General like Eric Schneiderman of NY from investigating ExxonMobil for lying to its shareholders about climate science — a crime in NY and elsewhere.
Aside from being a disgrace to Congress and America, today’s GOP hearing was utterly hypocritical. Check out the video (see above), in which Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) tells Wolf Blitzer that his committee (House Oversight) doesn’t have the authority to investigate the Donald Trump/Pam Bondi scandal because it (supposedly) lacks jurisdiction. Yet somehow the less-powerful “Science” Committee has the power to investigate state AGs??? Riiiiiight.
Also see Rep. Beyer’s press release (below), as well as video (above) of Beyer’s exchange with the former Acting General Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives (who confirms that the House Science Committee doesn’t have jurisdiction to do what it’s doing if the more powerful House Oversight Committee doesn’t).
Finally, see this HuffPo article, “House Science Hearing On ExxonMobil And Subpoenas: What You Should Know,” for more background, such as that “[t]wo of the three witnesses that Chairman Smith has called for today’s hearing — Professor Ronald Rotunda and Elizabeth Price Foley — have extensive financial ties to the fossil fuel industry and to think tanks that deny the dangers of climate change.”
At today’s Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing, Congressman Don Beyer questioned expert legal witnesses on the Science Committee’s limited subpoena power, in response to Chairman Lamar Smith’s overzealous harassment of state attorneys general (AGs) and environmental non-profit organizations.
“The House Science Committee’s record of promoting sound science and finding bipartisan solutions has been tarnished thanks to Chairman Smith’s actions,” said Rep. Beyer. “This Committee has no business harassing state attorneys general from investigating credible claims that ExxonMobil hid evidence from its shareholders related to the potential risks posed by climate change.”
Rep. Beyer highlighted a recent interview of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Video of that exchange can be viewed here.
In discussing the possible pay-to-play scandal involving Florida AG Pam Bondi and Donald Trump, Chairman Chaffetz said, “I don’t see the federal jurisdiction in this case. It does look to me to be a state issue. It’s regarding an attorney general in Florida. I just don’t see the federal jurisdiction.”
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has the “broadest” oversight jurisdiction of House Committees, able to investigate government-wide, according to Prof. Charles Tiefer, former Acting General Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives. Asked to comment on how Science Committee investigative jurisdiction could somehow exceed Oversight and Government Reform jurisdiction, Prof. Tiefer stated simply, “If they don’t have it, you don’t have it.”