Probes of Bush policies in works
By Rick Klein
Dec 27, 2006, 10:32
WASHINGTON — Massachusetts lawmakers are set to launch a blizzard of investigations in the new Congress, probing issues such as wartime contracting, post-Katrina housing assistance, and the Bush administration’s relationship with Cuba and other countries in Latin America.
In what could be closely watched proceedings, two members of the Massachusetts delegation — representatives William D. Delahunt of Quincy and Martin T. Meehan of Lowell — are planning joint committee hearings to examine the administration’s Iraq war policies, particularly the reasons for the military’s lagging efforts to train Iraqi troops. Delahunt is in line to become chairman of the House International Relations Committee’s subcommittee on oversight and investigations, and Meehan will take over the same subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee.
Armed with the power to force sworn testimony for the first time after 12 years in the minority in Congress, members of the state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation are positioned to play major roles in investigating policies and actions that cut across the federal government and the business community.
“We could be the Bush administration’s worst nightmare come to pass, in terms of the questions we’ll be able to ask from positions of power,” said Representative Edward J. Markey of Malden, the dean of the Massachusetts delegation. “There are a lot of secrets that have been hidden from the American people in terms of the way business has been done for the past six years.”
Democrats in general say that when they become the majority party in Congress, they intend to shine a spotlight on administration policies and management, where the Republican power structure has done little to check the authority of the president. With the GOP powerless to stop them, Democrats say, they hope their oversight will protect taxpayer dollars and shape the political agenda going into the 2008 presidential election.
The hearings and investigations planned by Massachusetts’ members of Congress will complement and, in some cases, compete with a dizzying array of other investigations Democrats are expected to launch early next year, and Senate committees are expected to be just as active as those in the House.
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