WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) sent a letter earlier this week to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew calling on the Treasury Department to stop obstructing Congressional oversight into the Administration’s implementation of Obamacare’s cost sharing reduction (CSR) program.
The Committees’ ongoing investigation has revealed that high-level Administration officials knowingly circumvented appropriations law and the Constitution to pay insurance companies under the CSR program. Despite a recent ruling from a federal judge holding that the Administration’s current payments under the CSR program are unconstitutional, the Treasury Department still refuses to cooperate fully with the Committees’ oversight efforts.
In their most recent letter, Chairmen Brady and Upton call on Secretary Lew to provide information on who at the Treasury Department has been preventing the Committees from fulfilling their constitutional obligation to oversee the Obama Administration’s use of taxpayer money.
The Chairmen wrote:
“Throughout the course of the Committees’ investigation, the Department of the Treasury has refused to cooperate. Your Department has failed to provide responsive documents—even pursuant to subpoena. Your Department not only improperly redacted the final memorandum you initialed authorizing the Department to make CSR payments, but does not appear to have even collected records responsive to our subpoenas. Your Department has not allowed witnesses to answer the Committees’ questions, citing a regulation promulgated by the Department that improperly limits the rights of Treasury employees to petition Congress. Further, the Department has not cited any legal privilege, let alone a valid one, to withhold this information from Congress. Your Department’s obstructive tactics reinforce the necessity of meaningful, diligent, and continuous congressional oversight.”
The Chairmen concluded:
“In light of these and other actions, the Committees have no choice but to conclude that your Department is obstructing our investigation.”
CLICK HERE to read the full letter.
- The investigation began in February 2015 when the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees sent letters to the Departments of the Treasury and Health and Human Services requesting documents and information regarding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) CSR program. The letters stated that the Committees were concerned that the “Administration is unlawfully and unconstitutionally misusing the permanent appropriations intended only to pay for tax refunds.”
- After 10 months of ignored requests for information, the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees sent subpoenas to the federal agencies responsible for implementing the CSR program.
- To date, the two Committees have issued 10 subpoenas, as well as conducted 12 transcribed interviews and one deposition.
- Throughout the course of the investigation, the Treasury Department has obstructed the Committees’ efforts to learn about how the Administration decided to spend taxpayer money illegally. When asked to produce documents voluntarily, Treasury refused to do so.
- When the Committees subpoenaed documents – creating a legal requirement for the Treasury Department to provide them – Treasury did not produce a single document by the subpoena deadline.
- To date, the Treasury Department has produced only 31 pages of documents, though the Committees are aware of many other documents in its possession responsive to the subpoenas. Treasury has redacted some of those documents but has not offered any legal basis for doing so, as the subpoenas require.
- When asked to voluntarily provide witnesses for interviews, Treasury refused to do so. Only after Ways and Means subpoenaed the witnesses to testify at depositions did Treasury say that they could appear voluntarily. When the witnesses appeared for their interviews, Treasury counsel would not allow them to answer many of the key questions Committee staff asked them. Treasury has not asserted any legal basis – let alone a valid one – for withholding that information. While HHS made some employees available for voluntary interviews, HHS counsel refused to allow them to answer substantive questions.