Don’t miss these highlights from Punchbowl News, Bloomberg Law, and E&E News, of House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) previewing top priorities for Energy and Commerce Republicans, including oversight over the Biden administration.
PUNCHBOWL NEWS: Exclusive Interview with Cathy McMorris Rodgers
On Thursday, Leader Rodgers joined Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer for a discussion of her priorities for Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM PUNCHBOWL:
ON FLIPPING THE SWITCH ON AMERICAN ENERGY PRODUCTION: “We’re going to stop the war that’s been waged on American energy. We have abundant energy resources, ingenuity, and new technologies that are so important to affordability, reliability, as well as our energy security and national security.
“I am quite disheartened by the [Democrats’] political agenda that seems to be dominated on energy that is making us more dependent upon Chinese supply chains and our foreign adversaries.”
HOLDING BIG TECH ACCOUNTABLE: Leader Rodgers said she was concerned about “the amount of data that’s collected that has been stored in China” from TikTok and explained the dangers of Snapchat.
“I will put Snapchat up there too. There are a number of examples of individuals that have purchased a pill laced with fentanyl unknowingly off Snapchat and died. I have stories in my own district. And they’re not being held accountable for criminal activity.”
ON E&C’S AUTHORIZING RESPONSIBILITIES: “Clearly, it’s time to authorize the CDC. We’re the authorizing committee. We’re the committee of jurisdiction. That’s fundamental to our role as elected representatives of the people to determine the mission and give direction to these agencies.
“The CDC has never been authorized. The NIH’s authorization ended in 2020. Many of the agencies within the Energy and Commerce Committee need to have their authorization updated. That is our fundamental responsibility.
“I’ve seen Dr. [Rochelle] Walensky, the CDC Director’s, review. She’s asking for more money and more authority. Well, Congress is the one that needs to authorize that.
“This is just so fundamental to our oversight efforts as well as building trust. Because the trust among the public health agencies has been shattered, especially during COVID in the last couple of years. Restoring trust also means bringing accountability. I believe it’s important that we are drafting the authorization to give that clear direction.”
ON COVID-19 OVERSIGHT: “We need to answer the question of where COVID-19 originated. That’s fundamental to informing our decisions moving forward.
“Overall, regarding the COVID response, the lockdowns, the decisions that were made in response to COVID, we want to look at the decisions that were made, what drove those decisions, and how we might want to approach that in the future.
“This generation of school aged kids that have been impacted. Their education has been impacted. We have a mental health crisis among our kids due to the lockdowns and the decisions that were made in that moment that did not take into consideration any other factors.”
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IN E&E NEWS: “Ready to go on oversight.”
KEY HIGHLIGHTS as reported by E&E: Aside from legislation, the ninth-term legislator expects Energy and Commerce to ramp up oversight of a range of energy and environmental agencies.
“We’re anxious, we have a lot of [oversight] work to do, and we are ready to go at it,” said McMorris Rodgers.
She said EPA, the Department of Energy, the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should all be ready for oversight sessions next year if she’s wielding the gavel.
McMorris Rodgers said she is especially interested in hearings to explore how agencies are operating in the wake of this summer’s Supreme Court ruling on West Virginia v. EPA, which limited the agency’s power to broadly regulate emissions. Conservatives saw the ruling as an opening to challenge the scope and authority of other federal regulators.
“Where agencies are going beyond their authority, it’s very important that we hold them accountable,” she added.
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IN BLOOMBERG: Rodgers said she sees a “real crisis of confidence” in federal health agencies.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS, as reported by Bloomberg Law: House Republicans aren’t waiting for next year to demand documents from the Biden administration about the federal response to the Covid pandemic and the role of key presidential advisers.
Republicans want to use a procedural tool—known as a resolution of inquiry—in the coming weeks to advance investigations into areas ranging from Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra’s role as a Covid adviser to oversight of research conducted in China at the start of the pandemic.
“There are so many questions that need to be answered about the government’s response to Covid-19,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in an interview. “How the pandemic started, that’s probably the most important public health question that needs to be answered.”
The resolutions include demands for: information around how much Covid funding remains and how many tests and vaccines were purchased (H. Res. 1263); documents related to oversight of the Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory (H. Res. 1267); records of HHS Secretary Becerra’s role in the Covid response (H. Res. 1268); and plans for dealing with the rise in fentanyl-related overdose deaths (H. Res. 1274).
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