Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) clashed over opening statements at the first hearing of the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
Both sides say Issa told Cummings 30 minutes before today’s hearing that there would be no opening statements issued at the hearing, which focused on government oversight over money distributed under the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).
Spokesman Kurt Bardella told TPM that Issa killed the idea of opening statements in order to skip the “political speechifying” which ate up time. “The American people wants Congress to listen more and talk less,” Bardella said.
But Democrats on the committee say that Issa told them as recently as yesterday that there would be opening statements. They also say that Issa wouldn’t allow them to have a representative of J.P. Morgan on the panel.
“You did not want the industry witness to testify here today,” Cummings said in the prepared opening statement he never delivered. “But my understanding is that you are prepared to schedule another hearing next month to investigate these and other abuses by the industry. It’s hard for me to understand how we can have today’s hearing on the foreclosure crisis without anyone from industry at the witness table. Nevertheless, if that is your plan, I will accept your assurance that the Committee will conduct a thorough, bipartisan investigation of the industry’s role in the foreclosure crisis.”
Cummings interjected with several ‘point of order’ inquires while Issa prepared to introduce those testifying before the committee. Video below.