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Conducting Robust Oversight

We’re conducting vigorous oversight, so Washington works again for the people not the special interests.  We’re holding the Trump Administration accountable for the cost of its culture of corruption that hurts regular Americans and undermines critical health care, environmental and consumer protections.  

  • Demanding answers on the skyrocketing price of insulin:  Held two-part hearing on the skyrocketing cost of insulin.  During the first hearing with patient advocates, we heard about the challenges of insulin affordability and the financial and health consequences on patients’ lives.  And then, in the second hearing with manufacturers and pharmacy middlemen, the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee heard about why insulin prices are soaring and discussed potential solutions to lower costs for consumers.  Committee leaders also sent oversight letters to pharmaceutical companies requesting answers on the root causes of rising costs.

  • Investigating junk Short-Term Insurance Plans that put consumers at risk:  Committee leaders conducted an investigation into junk insurance plans that were expanded by the Trump Administration.  At the conclusion of the investigation, the Committee released a report that found that the Trump Administration’s policy to expand unregulated and misleading plans is a threat to the health and financial well-being of American families, particularly during the COVID-19 crisis.

 

  • Conducting oversight of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) role in carrying out the Trump Administration’s inhumane Family Separation Policy:  The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee is conducting an ongoing investigation into family separation including questioning key HHS officials on their role in implementing the policy and their chaotic efforts to reunify children with their families.  The Subcommittee held two hearings, in February 2019 and in September 2019, on the policy, the long-term effects on the children and whether the Administration is taking steps to dramatically improve care for the children in its custody.

  • Successfully Urged HHS Inspector General to investigate Administrator Verma’s use of millions of taxpayer dollars on GOP consultants: Investigating Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma’s use of millions of taxpayer dollars on GOP consultants.  The Committee joined three other committees in requesting the Inspector General review Verma’s actions, which the Inspector General (IG) agreed to do in a letter to bicameral Committee leaders.  The IG report confirms that Administrator Verma and her top officials used contracts in violation of federal regulations and spent taxpayer funds inappropriately to retain these private consultants. 

 

  • Demanding answers from HHS on Title X family planning services grants awarded in March 2019.  The Title X program provides grant funding to providers that offer high-quality family planning and essential preventive health care services in their communities.  Committee leaders are concerned that the Trump Administration continues to place political ideology over the well-being of women and families across the nation.  The Administration’s attacks on this program were also under the microscope at a hearing in June 2019.

  • Holding the Trump Administration accountable for health care sabotage: On October 16, 2019, the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing with CMS Administrator Verma to question her over the Administration’s ongoing efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act, expand junk short-term insurance plans and impose illegal Medicaid work requirements.

  • Investigating private equity firms’ role in surprise billing practices:  Launched a bipartisan investigation into practices of private equity firms surrounding surprise billing.  In letters to three firms, Committee leaders requested information and documents pertaining to the firms’ ownership of private physician staffing and emergency transportation companies, which research shows are a leading source of surprise medical billing.

 

  • Examining issues related to the ongoing opioid epidemic:  As part of the Committee’s ongoing oversight into the opioid epidemic, bipartisan Committee letters were sent to 16 states asking how they are using federal funds to assist treatment and recovery efforts in response to the opioid crisis.  The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee also held an oversight hearing to get an update from federal agencies on the government’s response efforts to combat fentanyl.

 

  • Accountability for e-cigarette manufacturers: the Committee sent letters to the five dominant e-cigarette manufacturers requesting information on each of the companies’ research into the public health impacts of their products, marketing practices, and role in the promotion of e-cigarette use by adolescents.  The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee also held a hearing with FDA, CDC, and state public health officials on the threat posed by e-cigarettes.

  • Examining the Trump EPA’s efforts to undermine mercury protections and how that is endangering human health and the environment:  Held an Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on May 21, 2019, on a recent EPA proposal that says limiting mercury and other air toxics from coal and oil-fired power plants is not “appropriate and necessary.”  Mercury is one of the most toxic substances on the planet – and it can cause real harm to the brain, heart and other essential bodily systems.

  • Protecting consumers from contaminated drugs:  In June 2019, bipartisan Committee leaders requested GAO review FDA’s drug inspection program.  Then, in December, the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing on FDA’s foreign drug inspection program.  Recent recalls and troubling news report raise concerns about the program, which could undermine the safety of some drugs.

 

  • Investigating failures at Indian Health Service Hospitals (IHS):  Bipartisan Committee leaders are conducting a review of reports of medical errors and systemic failures at IHS hospitals.  The Committee requested updates on corrective actions taken to date as well as updates on the agency’s strategy to ensure improvements are made at IHS facilities nationwide.

 

  • Investigating EPA’s lack of enforcement measures:  Grilled EPA on its stark enforcement record, demanding to know why it is conducting the fewest investigations of any EPA in recent times and relying on industry to voluntarily come forward with their violations.  In June 2019, the Committee brought together a bipartisan group of former EPA Administrators to hear precisely why the Trump EPA’s actions – and lack thereof – are so troubling for an agency whose work is based on science. 

  • Investigating EPA officials’ ties to secretive industry group:  Committee leaders sent a series of letters demanding information and documents related to two Trump Administration officials’ relationship with the Utility Air Regulatory Group (UARG), a secretive front group funded by utility companies and devoted to rolling back Clean Air Act regulations.  On May 10, 2019, in the face of this Congressional scrutiny, UARG announced that it was disbanding.  William Wehrum, EPA’s top air policy official, resigned shortly thereafter. 

  • Demanding answers from EPA on the Agency’s efforts to systemically weaken the role of science:  In September 2019, Committee leaders demanded documents and answers related to EPA’s ongoing attempts to discredit science and undermine independent scientists’ role in developing environmental protections. Specifically, they requested information pertaining to the Agency’s decision to disband the panel of independent science experts that typically supports the work of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC).

 

  • Examining the Department of Energy’s growing environmental liabilities: Held an oversight hearing on the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Office of Environmental Management’s efforts to clean up the legacy nuclear waste sites remaining from the Cold War.  DOE faces nearly $500 billion in environmental liabilities related to cleaning up these facilities, and Committee leaders question why liabilities continue to skyrocket even though the agency is investing more in cleanups. 

 

  • Exercising much-needed oversight of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC):  In May and December 2019, the Committee held two oversight hearings of the FCC.  We pressed the FCC Commissioners about critical issues affecting consumers, some of which Committee members had previously raised in letters to the Commission, such as the allocation of spectrum, diversity in media ownership, wireless network resiliency, the Lifeline program, the unauthorized disclosure of consumers’ real-time location data, the T-Mobile-Sprint merger, and more.  

 

  • Requesting a GAO investigation of the FCC’s response to communications failures in U.S. territories following Hurricane Maria:  In October 2019, Chairman Pallone and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Doyle requested a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation into the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) response to Hurricane Maria, which raised serious questions about the state of our telecommunications infrastructure.

 

  • Conducting oversight of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):  Held an oversight hearing with the FTC in May 2019 to highlight that the Commission needs more enforcement power, rulemaking authority, and resources to effectively safeguard Americans’ privacy and data security, as well as other important issues within the Commission’s purview.

 

  • Conducting oversight of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):  Held an oversight hearing with CPSC and consumer advocates to discuss the Committee’s serious concerns about the Commission’s commitment to protecting consumers from the risks associated with dangerous consumer products and the troubling cozy relationship with industries it is supposed to regulate.  

 

  • Seeking explanation on Trump Administration decision to suspend funding the World Health Organization (WHO):  Amidst a global pandemic, the Trump Administration’s decision is an effort to undermine congressional authority and an apparent attempt to distract the public from the Trump Administration’s own coronavirus response failures.

 

  • Investigating companies on potential COVID-19 test price gouging:  Sent a letter to ten companies, and one trade association, requesting additional information about their practices and prices for diagnostic and serological tests for COVID-19.  The request came after the Committee conducted an initial examination that yielded disturbing information about the price of COVID-19 tests, and providers’ compliance with both the Families First Coronavirus Response (Families First) Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

 

  • Urging CMS Administrator Verma to release COVID-19 data on health disparities:  Sent a letter seeking the agency to immediately release demographic data on the health outcomes of COVID-19 based on race, ethnicity and gender.  According to currently available data, individuals from racial and ethnic minority communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

 

  • Questioning Administration officials and experts during COVID-19 pandemic:  Throughout the pandemic, Committee leaders have led briefings with leaders at agencies like the CDC, FCC, FDA, and HHS, and other agencies to understand what each agency is doing during the pandemic.  

 

  • Held oversight hearing with COVID-19 manufacturers:  Brought transparency to Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed and pressed the vaccine manufacturers on how the billions of dollars for COVID-19 vaccine development and manufacturing efforts, and other medical countermeasures, supplied by the federal government are being used.  In a separate Full Committee hearing, members of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force testified on the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

  • Investigating Trump EPA’s disastrous record:  The Committee released a staff report examining some of the Trump EPA’s most egregious and dangerous rollbacks in five key areas – climate change, scientific integrity, environmental justice, clean air and clean water – and highlights the impacts these rollbacks could have on public health.  Finally, the report underscores some of the Committee’s efforts to hold the Trump Administration accountable for these actions.