Issa Threatens EPA With Contempt as Team Obama Celebrates Its Climate Anniversary

Oversight chairman says agency has failed to comply with a subpoena.

Rep. Darrell Issa interviewed after Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 25, 2011.
National Journal
Jason Plautz
June 25, 2014, 9:37 a.m.

While most of Pres­id­ent Obama’s Cab­in­et was tout­ing the an­niversary of Pres­id­ent Obama’s land­mark speech in which he laid out plans to ad­dress cli­mate change, EPA Ad­min­is­trat­or Gina Mc­Carthy was left fa­cing a con­tempt threat from House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee Chair­man Dar­rell Issa.

Issa is­sued a sub­poena in Novem­ber for doc­u­ments and com­mu­nic­a­tions between the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency and the Ex­ec­ut­ive Of­fice of the Pres­id­ent over a five-year peri­od as part of an in­quiry in­to wheth­er the White House in­terfered with how the agency re­spon­ded to con­gres­sion­al in­quir­ies.

That re­quest has gone un­ful­filled, said Issa, who says he’s plan­ning to con­vene a com­mit­tee busi­ness meet­ing after next week’s re­cess and hold the agency in con­tempt if the doc­u­ments are not turned over or ex­ec­ut­ive priv­ilege ex­er­ted.

“There is no ne­go­ti­ation “¦ ne­go­ti­ation time ex­pired long ago,” Issa said.

Mc­Carthy told the com­mit­tee that EPA staff was still work­ing with the com­mit­tee to ad­dress its con­cerns and this morn­ing held an in cam­era re­view of a pre­vi­ously-re­dac­ted email that showed there was no co­ordin­a­tion with the White House about how to com­ply with con­gres­sion­al re­quests. Mc­Carthy said the email should ad­dress the root of the sub­poena.

Demo­crats were quick to cri­ti­cize Issa for fo­cus­ing so much on agency man­age­ment, es­pe­cially since the hear­ing fell a year after the pres­id­ent’s cli­mate speech and marked Mc­Carthy’s first ap­pear­ance be­fore Con­gress since EPA re­leased a car­bon pol­lu­tion-re­duc­tion plan for ex­ist­ing power plants.

“Even­tu­ally, I be­lieve, the com­mit­tee must turn from ‘over­sight’ to ‘re­form,’ ” said rank­ing mem­ber Eli­jah Cum­mings of Mary­land. “At some point, his­tory calls on us to take on the greatest chal­lenge our gen­er­a­tion has ever faced in glob­al warm­ing.”

Rep. Gerry Con­nolly of Vir­gin­ia also dis­missed Issa’s ori­gin­al re­quest as a “fish­ing ex­ped­i­tion.”

The hear­ing also in­cluded a bit of deja vu for the com­mit­tee when mem­bers grilled Mc­Carthy on lost emails from a hard-drive crash (the same is­sue that wiped out emails from IRS em­ploy­ee Lois Lern­er). In this case, the emails in ques­tion were from re­tired EPA em­ploy­ee Philip North, who was in­volved in the agency’s de­cision to be­gin the pro­cess of pree­mpt­ively veto­ing the Pebble Mine pro­ject in Alaska.

North, who de­clined an in­ter­view re­quest by the com­mit­tee, is re­tired, and com­mit­tee staff say they have been un­able to track him down. Ac­cord­ing to a com­mit­tee aide, North’s hard drive crashed in 2010 — which was around the same time that the com­mit­tee is in­vest­ig­at­ing the agency’s dis­cus­sions of a po­ten­tial veto — and the emails were not backed up.

Mc­Carthy said it ap­peared there were some emails the agency could not pro­duce that should have been kept, but she was still work­ing to see if they could be re­covered. Mc­Carthy made it clear that it was a small set of emails and that the agency had no­ti­fied the Na­tion­al Archives of the prob­lem Tues­day, though had told Over­sight Com­mit­tee staff earli­er.

Rep. Mark Mead­ows, a Re­pub­lic­an from North Car­o­lina, raised con­cerns that the fail­ure to back up the emails was a vi­ol­a­tion of the Fed­er­al Re­cords Act.

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
ARE YOU THE GATEKEEPER?
Sanders: Obama Is a Progressive
1 days ago
THE LATEST

“Do I think President Obama is a progressive? Yeah, I do,” said Bernie Sanders, in response to a direct question in tonight’s debate. “I think they’ve done a great job.” But Hillary Clinton wasn’t content to sit out the latest chapter in the great debate over the definition of progressivism. “In your definition, with you being the gatekeeper of progressivism, I don’t think anyone else fits that definition,” she told Sanders.

×