Incoming House Oversight chair pledges hard line on waste

Harry Hamburg/AP
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, issued yet another warning to the White House on Sunday that he will launch in depth investigations into wasteful government spending when he takes the gavel this week.

And Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who will be the Democrats' ranking member on the committee, indicated Sunday that he may be on board with some of Issa's investigations.

Issa has been very critical of the Obama administration, particularly for its nearly $800 billion economic stimulus package. He has said that he will investigate abuse in the dispersement of those funds.

The Republican, who will gain the committee's subpoena power as chairman, said his investigations into stimulus spending will likely lead to calls to punitive action. On Fox News Sunday, Issa said that "as you shed light on it, you build the American people's demand that we realize that the president took two years to find out that nothing is shovel ready."

"And you know why nothing is shovel ready?" he continued. "Because the bureaucracy slows down those road programs and the things that the president said was so important."

Issa also said the White House should hire more accountants, not lawyers, in preparation for the investigations.

On CNN's State of the Union, Cummings indicated that he is willing to work with Issa. "We're going to do it in a bipartisan way here if Mr. Issa cooperates," Cummings said. "I'm going to hold this administration to a very high standard."

Notably, Issa also struck a somewhat conciliatory tone with with Obama administration on other issues. On CNN's State of the Union, Issa said he spoke to Vice President Joe Biden shortly after the election. "President Obama has the same goal I have," Issa said on CNN. "Let's first find the fraud. Then we can figure out how not to spend the money."

Issa also said he would not investigate the Obama administration for offering then-Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) a job in the administration to prevent him from challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic Senate primary. Sestak refused the offer and defeated Specter in the primary, before losing the general election to Republican Pat Toomey.

Such an offer "was wrong if it was done in the Bush administration," Issa said. And "it was wrong in the Obama administration." But, he added, the committee's focus is rooting out "waste, fraud and abuse."

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