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In Effort to Break Administration’s Yearlong Stonewall, Brady and Upton Subpoena Treasury and IRS Officials

January 20, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC – After requesting information regarding the administration’s unlawful payments to insurance companies for almost a year, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) each issued a subpoena to Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew for documents regarding the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) program, part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Ways and Means Committee also issued subpoenas to three IRS officials to appear for depositions. The committees first launched an investigation into this program in February 2015, but the Obama administration has denied repeated requests for information and documents since that time.

The chairmen have also requested similar information and documents from Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell. This week, Secretary Burwell agreed during a phone call with Chairman Upton to provide a briefing on the issue, putting a subpoena on a short-term hold and granting HHS one last chance to provide the requested information and documents.

The committee leaders have been concerned that the administration is paying subsidies to insurance companies under Section 1402 of the health care law without a legal appropriation from Congress. These expenditures have totaled more than $5 billion to date and are estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to amount to approximately $170 billion over the next 10 years. The committee leaders first requested documents on February 3, 2015. Committee leaders reiterated their request for documents and information in a July 7, 2015 letter only to be rebuffed for a second time. Upton and Brady again pressed the administration for answers in a December 2015 letter to Secretary Burwell and Secretary Lew, which was again ignored. Now the chairmen are requiring Treasury to comply with these requests by February 3, 2016, exactly one year since they sent the first letter to the administration. (A complete timeline is below)

“What’s the self-proclaimed ‘most transparent administration in history’ trying to hide? Subpoenas should not be necessary to gather basic information about $5 billion in unlawful payments to insurance companies, but the Obama administration has left no choice despite our repeated, good faith efforts. After almost a year of repeated excuses and stonewalling, the public deserves better. At the end of the day, the American public will get answers,” said Brady and Upton.

Read all of the letters online HERE.

View each of the subpoenas below.
Subpoena, The Honorable Jacob Lew, Secretary of the Treasury
Subpoena, William Wilkins, Chief Counsel, Internal Revenue Service
Subpoena, Gregory Kane, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Internal Revenue Service
Subpoena, Robin Canady, Chief Financial Officer, Internal Revenue Service

Feb. 3, 2015:
Chairman Upton and Chairman Ryan sent letters to the Departments of the Treasury and Health and Human Services requesting documents and information regarding the implementation of the ACA’s cost-sharing reduction program. The letter stated that the committees are concerned that the “administration is unlawfully and unconstitutionally misusing the permanent appropriations intended only to pay for tax refunds.”

Feb. 25, 2015:
Treasury and HHS sent a brief joint response refusing to provide the requested information and documents, because, according to the departments, the letters “relate to matters that are the subject of the House lawsuit.”

July 7, 2015:
The committees sent letters to Treasury and HHS reiterating the February 2, 2015, document request. The letter stated that if the agencies “fail[] to produce the documents and information, the committees will have no choice but to consider the use of the compulsory process to obtain them.”

July 21, 2015:
Treasury and HHS sent a joint response, again refusing to provide any documents or information regarding the cost-sharing reduction program.

Dec. 2, 2015:
The committees sent letters to Treasury and HHS requesting transcribed interviews of eight total government officials (four from each agency). The letters stated that if the agencies “fail[] to timely respond or schedule the requested interviews, the committees will have no choice but to resort to compelled process.”

Dec. 18, 2015:
Treasury and HHS sent a joint response.  The letter did not address the transcribed interview request, but implicitly denied that request by stating that if the Committees have “any oversight interest that are not being addressed through the litigation, we would be happy to meet with you and your staff to discuss how we might work to accommodate those interests.”

Jan. 19, 2016:
Secretary Burwell pledges to Chairman Upton on a phone call to make a senior HHS official available for a briefing.