Grassley Claims Win For Congressional Oversight, Government Transparency

Aug 1, 2017

Iowa's senior senator is claiming a win in his efforts to foster transparency in the federal government. The Trump Administration has now publicly committed to honor oversight requests from all members of Congress.

Back in May, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion stating the executive branch only had to honor oversight requests from Congress if the request was made by a committee, subcommittee or chairperson.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, chair of the Judiciary Committee, strongly opposed this opinion, calling it "nonsense." Now the administration has agreed to voluntarily release information to all members of Congress, when possible.

"The Administration will use its best efforts to be as timely and responsive as possible in answering such requests consistent with the need to prioritize requests from congressional Committees, with applicable resources constraints, and with any legitimate confidentiality or institutional interests of the Executive Branch," wrote Marc Short, the Trump Administration's director of legislative affairs, in a letter addressed to Grassley on July 20. 

"This response shows a commitment to follow through on the promise to drain the swamp by fostering more accountability at federal agencies," says Grassley. "When all 535 members of Congress can effectively conduct oversight and get answers, they can better serve the American people."

Without this commitment, oversight requests from Democrats, independents and less-senior Republicans could have been denied.