WASHINGTON – House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and House Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) today responded to Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson’s (D-Miss.) press release, which attempted to mislead the public concerning the appearance of the U.S. Coast Guard Commandant before a never-scheduled joint committee hearing.
The letter can be found here.
The full text is below:
Dear Chairwoman Maloney and Chairman Thompson,
We received your press release concerning your allegation that the Commandant of the CoastGuard refuses to appear before a joint hearing of the Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Committee on Homeland Security scheduled for July 16, 2020. Frankly, we are appalled that you would attempt to mislead the public concerning the actions of a four-star Admiral with over 40 years of commendable service to our country.
First, the Commandant of the Coast Guard did not “reject” your invitation to testify, nor has the Service refused to appear for a public hearing. In the first line of Rear Admiral Hickey’s letter responding to your invitation, he states that “Admiral Schultz welcomes the opportunity to appear before your committees.” He goes on to state that the Coast Guard is “willing to work with you and your staff to find dates and formats that comply with the requirements outlined by OMB that would allow Admiral Schultz to testify in person before your two Committees.” Instead of being forthright with the public by releasing the Coast Guard’s response to your invitation, you instead chose to grossly mischaracterize it in a press release.
In fact, we understand that at no point after receiving the Coast Guard’s response did your staff contact the Coast Guard in an attempt to schedule a date to hold this hearing in person, incompliance with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance. Every Chairman in every Congress since our founding has had to work with the administration to find a mutually acceptable way to accommodate a witness’ schedule and restrictions on hearing formats. We are at a loss to understand why you failed to even attempt to work with the Coast Guard especially considering the significance of the proposed hearing’s subject matter.
Second, there is not now, nor was there ever a “joint hearing scheduled for July 16, 2020”. Under the rules of the Committee on Homeland Security and the Committee on Oversight and Reform, if a public hearing were to take place on July 16, 2020, it would have needed to be publicly noticed no later than July 9, 2020. No such notice was made public and no such hearing appears on the website of either Committee.
Finally, neither Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Hahn, nor National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Fauci have “testified before Congress virtually” after May 30, 2020, the date on which OMB released its guidance restricting the virtual testimony of administration officials before Congress. The only time Commissioner Hahn and Director Fauci testified virtually was on May 12, 2020 and only because both were self-quarantining in response to potential exposure to COVID-19. We encourage you to check the facts before you attempt to use them to build a false narrative.
We have attached the Coast Guard’s response to your invitation. We encourage you to reread the letter and take the Service up on its offer to work with you to find a date when we can hold an in person hearing with the Commandant present. In the interim, we urge you to refrain from misleading the public about the actions of our military leaders.
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Author: Emily Bondi