Oversight & Investigations

Subcommittee

Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations

Responsible for conducting oversight and investigations of any matter related to the jurisdiction of the full committee.

Subcommittees News & Announcements


Jul 9, 2024
Press Release

E&C Leaders Open Investigation into NTIA’s IIJA BEAD Funding Deployment, Citing Abnormal Lack of Transparency and Allegations of Rate Regulation

Washington, D.C. — In a new letter to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chair Bob Latta (R-OH), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) requested all communications between the agency and state broadband offices related to Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Initial Proposals. The letter comes amid concerns that NTIA is unlawfully pressuring states to rate regulate low-cost broadband plans required by the BEAD Program and following a May 15, 2024, hearing at which Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Alan Davidson committed to being more transparent about BEAD funding decision making.  KEY EXCERPT :  “Based on anecdotal evidence from different entities involved in the process, it appears that the NTIA may be evaluating initial proposals counter to Congressional intent and in violation of the law. Several Members of Congress have directly raised to you that the NTIA, through its review of initial proposals, is unlawfully regulating the rate of broadband through BEAD’s low-cost service option in direct conflict with the IIJA, which states: ‘Nothing in this title may be construed to authorize the Assistant Secretary or the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to regulate the rates charged for broadband service.’9 During Senate floor debate on the IIJA, Members of Congress agreed that this language meant that ‘no rate regulation of broadband services would be authorized or permitted by the NTIA or the Assistant Secretary who leads the NTIA as part of the state broadband grant program.’” “States have reported that the NTIA is directing them to set rates and conditioning approval of initial proposals on doing so. This undoubtedly constitutes rate regulation by the NTIA. Indeed, one state publicly posted the NTIA’s feedback that the agency would not approve their initial proposal without ’an exact price or formula’ for the state’s low-cost option. Without visibility into the approval process, Congress in unable to determine how widespread this practice is. When asked about this at oversight hearings, your responses have failed to provide clarity.”  BACKGROUND:  Congress appropriated an unprecedented $42.45 billion through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) for the NTIA to administer the BEAD program.   The program was intended to ensure that all Americans, specifically those in unserved or underserved areas, have access to broadband.   The NTIA is responsible for managing and distributing this money to the states and territories.  The IIJA prohibits the NTIA from rate regulation.  The IIJA established a process for how states receive money from the NTIA for this program.   First, each of the 56 individual states and territories (state entities) were required to submit an Initial Proposal explaining their proposed process for awarding the funds.   The NTIA was then tasked with reviewing and approving each individual states entities’ proposal, after which funds would be allocated to the state to award.   Some states report that the NTIA is conditioning approval of their Initial Proposals on setting a specific price for low-cost broadband plans despite the prohibition on rate regulation.  Despite every state entity having submitted their initial proposals by the December 27, 2023, deadline, the NTIA has only approved 16 initial proposals as of the date of this letter.   Due to the opaque nature of the NTIA’s review and approval process, the Committee lacks the information necessary to assess whether NTIA is pressuring states to rate regulate and to understand why so few state entities initial proposals have been approved to move forward.  CLICK HERE to read the full letter to Assistant Secretary Davidson. 



Jun 28, 2024
Press Release

Chair Rodgers Statement on SCOTUS Ruling to Restore Article I Power

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) issued the following statement after the United States Supreme Court struck down the “Chevron Deference” in Loper Bright Enterprises, et al. v. Raimondo : “Article I of the Constitution established Congress’s role to write the laws of the land—not the Executive Branch. The Supreme Court’s ruling today will help restore the proper balance of power as the Founders envisioned it. Moving forward, major decision-making authority will no longer automatically be deferred to unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. Power has been placed back in the hands of the American people and their elected representatives, as the Constitution prescribes.” 



Jun 25, 2024
Hearings

Chair Griffith Opening Remarks at Hearing on Anti-Doping Measures Ahead of the 2024 Olympics

Washington D.C. —  House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) delivered the following opening remarks at today’s subcommittee  hearing  titled “Examining Anti-Doping Measures in Advance of the 2024 Olympics.”  UPHOLDING THE INTEGRITY OF THE OLYMPICS   “As U.S. athletes prepare to compete in the Paris Olympics, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the reliability of international anti-doping enforcement which is supposed to eliminate the use of certain performance enhancing drugs.  “This Committee has been alarmed to learn from news reports that several swimmers representing the People’s Republic of China tested positive for banned performance enhancing substances and then went on to compete in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.  “Just last week, eleven of these swimmers were again named to the People’s Republic of China’s 2024 Olympic team. All of this comes after the World Anti-Doping Agency, or WADA, ignored signs of systemic Russian doping for years.  “Seven years ago, this Oversight subcommittee, held a hearing on ways to strengthen the international anti-doping system. It is unfortunate that we are here again.  “Two witnesses from that 2017 hearing are back with us today—premier Olympian, Mr. Michael Phelps and the CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, or USADA, Mr. Travis Tygart.  “We are also pleased to welcome another outstanding Olympic swimmer, Ms. Allison Schmitt, to join us today so we can revisit doping in sports ahead of next month’s Summer Olympics. “I want to start off by reminding everyone of what Mr. Phelps told us seven years ago, because it bears repeating. “He said ‘if we allow our confidence in fair play to erode, we will undermine the power of sport and the goals and dreams of future generations. The time to act is now.’  “I’m glad Mr. Phelps highlighted the damage performance enhancing drugs has on our country’s youth athletes and am disappointed that WADA has not seemed to heed that call.” THE IMPORTANCE OF A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD   “Children join sports teams and clubs believing that the system is mostly fair and that cheaters will be punished.  “The importance of sports for our country’s children cannot be understated.  “Sports empower children by teaching them life lessons, building their confidence, showing them the meaning of hard work, and offering some of them opportunities to represent our country and make a career. “I myself have had the opportunity to see my own children grow and learn from competitive swimming.   “In fact, this last week was very exciting in my household, because one year ago, in high school regionals, my son competed against Olympian Thomas Heilman, who at age 17, is the youngest male swimmer to qualify for Team USA since Michael Phelps.  “The joke at my house was, that, at one point in the race they were tied, that would be the part where the starter says, 'take your mark.’  “Foundational to the Olympics is the trust that clean athletes, both aspiring and current Olympians, have in the system to keep cheaters out.   “Doping leads to cynicism in sports and inevitable disappointment for aspiring athletes. “As I’m sure Ms. Schmitt and Mr. Phelps can attest to, we cannot overemphasize the dedication, sacrifices, and training required of our Olympians, competing at the very highest, and what I believe to be the most prestigious, athletic level. “Youth athletes dedicate themselves by putting in countless hours of training, pushing both physical and mental limits in the hopes of one day being an Olympian.   “Athletes miss birthdays and holidays to train so that they can achieve success the right way, on their merit.  “Mr. Phelps has previously said he didn’t take a single day off for over a five-year period, just so he could be the best at what he does.  “Doping irrevocably undermines the purpose of that sacrifice by allowing competitors who really want all the glory without putting in as much work.  “Is it fair that we encourage our youth to invest so much of their time if on the greatest stage consequences are not expected for certain countries’ athletes?”  WADA MUST IMPROVE TRANSPARENCY   “That is why I am disappointed that Mr. Banka, the President of WADA, refused our invitation to testify before this Subcommittee today to discuss his role in upholding the integrity of anti-doping testing and enforcement in international sports competitions.  “WADA received nearly four million in taxpayer dollars through Congress last fiscal year. Their refusal to appear today calls into question their commitment to accountability and perhaps if they’re not going to do their job, should we even fund them?  “Mr. Banka and WADA have hidden today rather than explain how WADA let over twenty swimmers representing the People’s Republic of China compete in international competitions after they all tested positive for a banned substance.  “Cheating athletes take away spots and medals from clean athletes.  “The integrity and sanctity of sports is critical for the Olympians competing but also for the children who dream one day to be an Olympian.  “We will keep a seat open for Mr. Banka in case he decides to join us.  “I want to thank the three of you who made it here today despite your very busy schedules ahead of the Paris Olympics.” 


Subcommittee Members

(17)

Chairman Oversight and Investigations

Morgan Griffith

R

Virginia – District 9

Vice Chair Oversight and Investigations

Debbie Lesko

R

Arizona – District 8

Ranking Member Oversight and Investigations

Kathy Castor

D

Florida – District 14

Michael Burgess

R

Texas – District 26

Brett Guthrie

R

Kentucky – District 2

Jeff Duncan

R

South Carolina – District 3

Gary Palmer

R

Alabama – District 6

Dan Crenshaw

R

Texas – District 2

Kelly Armstrong

R

North Dakota - At Large

Kat Cammack

R

Florida – District 3

Cathy McMorris Rodgers

R

Washington – District 5

Diana DeGette

D

Colorado – District 1

Jan Schakowsky

D

Illinois – District 9

Paul Tonko

D

New York – District 20

Raul Ruiz

D

California – District 25

Scott Peters

D

California – District 50

Frank Pallone

D

New Jersey – District 6

Recent Letters


Jul 9, 2024
Press Release

E&C Leaders Open Investigation into NTIA’s IIJA BEAD Funding Deployment, Citing Abnormal Lack of Transparency and Allegations of Rate Regulation

Washington, D.C. — In a new letter to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chair Bob Latta (R-OH), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) requested all communications between the agency and state broadband offices related to Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Initial Proposals. The letter comes amid concerns that NTIA is unlawfully pressuring states to rate regulate low-cost broadband plans required by the BEAD Program and following a May 15, 2024, hearing at which Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Alan Davidson committed to being more transparent about BEAD funding decision making.  KEY EXCERPT :  “Based on anecdotal evidence from different entities involved in the process, it appears that the NTIA may be evaluating initial proposals counter to Congressional intent and in violation of the law. Several Members of Congress have directly raised to you that the NTIA, through its review of initial proposals, is unlawfully regulating the rate of broadband through BEAD’s low-cost service option in direct conflict with the IIJA, which states: ‘Nothing in this title may be construed to authorize the Assistant Secretary or the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to regulate the rates charged for broadband service.’9 During Senate floor debate on the IIJA, Members of Congress agreed that this language meant that ‘no rate regulation of broadband services would be authorized or permitted by the NTIA or the Assistant Secretary who leads the NTIA as part of the state broadband grant program.’” “States have reported that the NTIA is directing them to set rates and conditioning approval of initial proposals on doing so. This undoubtedly constitutes rate regulation by the NTIA. Indeed, one state publicly posted the NTIA’s feedback that the agency would not approve their initial proposal without ’an exact price or formula’ for the state’s low-cost option. Without visibility into the approval process, Congress in unable to determine how widespread this practice is. When asked about this at oversight hearings, your responses have failed to provide clarity.”  BACKGROUND:  Congress appropriated an unprecedented $42.45 billion through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) for the NTIA to administer the BEAD program.   The program was intended to ensure that all Americans, specifically those in unserved or underserved areas, have access to broadband.   The NTIA is responsible for managing and distributing this money to the states and territories.  The IIJA prohibits the NTIA from rate regulation.  The IIJA established a process for how states receive money from the NTIA for this program.   First, each of the 56 individual states and territories (state entities) were required to submit an Initial Proposal explaining their proposed process for awarding the funds.   The NTIA was then tasked with reviewing and approving each individual states entities’ proposal, after which funds would be allocated to the state to award.   Some states report that the NTIA is conditioning approval of their Initial Proposals on setting a specific price for low-cost broadband plans despite the prohibition on rate regulation.  Despite every state entity having submitted their initial proposals by the December 27, 2023, deadline, the NTIA has only approved 16 initial proposals as of the date of this letter.   Due to the opaque nature of the NTIA’s review and approval process, the Committee lacks the information necessary to assess whether NTIA is pressuring states to rate regulate and to understand why so few state entities initial proposals have been approved to move forward.  CLICK HERE to read the full letter to Assistant Secretary Davidson. 



Jun 24, 2024
Press Release

E&C Republicans Press FDA Again for Information Regarding Foreign Inspection Program

Washington, D.C. — In a new letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Robert Califf, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) are pressing for more information regarding the agency’s foreign drug inspection program. The letter continues the Committee’s investigation into FDA inspection practices, which include a July 18, 2023, letter , a December 13, 2023, letter , and a February 6, 2024, oversight hearing at which the FDA declined to make an official available to testify.  BACKGROUND :  In the letter, the Members discuss the Committee’s analysis of FDA inspection outcomes in India and China from January 2014 to April 2024, limiting its review to inspectors with ten or more inspections in either China or India.   EXCERPT OF THE ANALYSIS :  “The results of this analysis were surprising, revealing tremendous variation in inspection outcomes. Some FDA inspectors found compliance issues during all or almost all of their inspections. Other inspectors rarely reported finding a single compliance issue. Two inspectors never found a single compliance issue over the course of a combined 24 inspections in India. Another inspector found zero compliance issues in 20 out of 23 inspections (85 percent) in China while finding compliance issues with almost half of domestic inspections during the same period. These are unusual inspection outcomes, the opposite of what would be expected given the widely reported failures in quality control and lack of adherence to current good manufacturing techniques by drug manufacturing facilities in China and India.  “By contrast, 16 FDA inspectors, with over 325 inspections collectively in India, found compliance issues during every inspection they conducted. As a measure of what a pattern of rigorous inspections should look like, the Committee reviewed the inspection outcomes for 3 FDA inspectors with professional reputations for thoroughness who also had at least 10 inspections in China or India during the studied time period. These expert inspectors reported finding no compliance issues during inspections in China at a rate of only 6.7 to 11.4 percent and at a rate of zero to 9.5 percent in India.”  KEY LETTER EXCERPT : “Such large variations in inspection outcomes are troubling, and they merit further investigation. At a minimum, the Committee is concerned that these findings suggest vast differences in the skill, thoroughness, and competence of FDA inspectors. The difference in inspection outcomes appears to be just another example of institutional weaknesses and dysfunction in the FDA’s foreign drug inspection program. Prior to the pandemic, media reporting found that some FDA inspectors took an inappropriately lenient approach with foreign drug manufacturers with serious compliance violations. There were also reports o f, and concerns about, foreign manufacturers attempting to bribe or improperly influence inspectors. The Committee is seriously evaluating the disturbing possibility that some of the variation in inspection outcomes could be the result of bribery or fraud.”  CLICK HERE to read the full letter. 



May 30, 2024
Press Release

Evidence Uncovered by E&C Republicans Refutes Secretary Becerra’s Assertion that HHS Takes Action to Prevent Sexual Abusers from Receiving Taxpayer Funding

Washington, D.C. —  In a new letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) request information regarding HHS’s suspension and debarment process.  The letter also provides direct evidence refuting Secretary Becerra’s testimony to the Health Subcommittee asserting that HHS “will take immediate action” to stop sexual abusers from receiving taxpayer funding. It comes amid the Committee’s ongoing investigation into sexual harassment at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and at NIH grantee institutions.  KEY LETTER EXCERPT :  “At the April 17, 2024, hearing before the Subcommittee on Health, in response to a question about the redactions of names of confirmed abusers or harassers, you said: ‘If there is an abuser that is receiving taxpayer dollars from the Department of Health and Human Services, . . . in this particular case the National Institutes of Health [NIH], we will take action immediately.’    “ However, your claim is belied by the facts. Based on subpoenaed NIH documents reviewed in camera, Committee staff discovered that an individual who served as principal investigator on at least 24 NIH-grants was not suspended or debarred from receiving federal funding despite his conviction in 2021 of sexual abuse and his medical license being stripped . Based on documentation reviewed during the Committee’s in camera review of sexual misconduct allegations on NIH-funded research, staff found that in September 2020, the NIH recommended to HHS an immediate federal-wide suspension and debarment of this abuser for 10 years based on the abuser’s indictment in 2019 on three counts of sexual abuse, and the grantee institution’s determination that the individual was responsible for sexual harassment in January of 2020. Despite this recommendation from the NIH, followed by the individual’s conviction in December 2021, HHS has taken no action. Three and a half years later, this abuser remains eligible for federal funding. On April 15, 2024, Committee staff sent an email to HHS staff requesting information about the status and handling of this matter. HHS has not yet responded.”  [...]  “ We are troubled by the limited use of suspensions and debarments from awarding agencies within HHS along with the timeliness issues and lack of use of suspensions pre-debarment raised by the HHS OIG. Harassers and abusers with public reporting of their actions, and even some with criminal convictions, are not present on SAM.gov as suspended or debarred .”  BACKGROUND : HHS is the largest grantmaking agency in the federal government—awarding over $778 billion in grants in fiscal year 2023.  Federal suspension and debarment programs help to protect the integrity of federal grant programs by ensuring the federal government does business only with responsible persons.  Individuals or parties receiving grants can be suspended or debarred from continuing to receive federal grants if they lack honesty, integrity, or business performance.  Within HHS, a suspension or debarment action may be initiated from an awarding agency—such as the NIH—or another entity—such as the Office of Inspector General (OIG).     Referrals for suspension or debarment are sent to the HHS Office of Recipient Integrity Coordination (ORIC) for review and final decision by the Suspension and Debarment Official (SDO).  Referrals can be conviction-based—originating from a criminal conviction or civil judgement—or fact-based—in which the referring office builds a case based on facts (e.g., audit findings or failures to disclose).  Suspensions and debarments are not retrospective, meaning respondents can maintain their current award(s), but it does prevent them from receiving new federal awards.   Not only are these suspensions and debarments valid within the referring agency, but they also generally make a respondent ineligible for awards from other federal departments.   Suspended or debarred parties or individuals are listed on SAM.gov and awarding departments can check this list before awarding grants to prevent awarding grants to these parties or individuals.   While federal departments have discretion as to when to refer a respondent for suspension or debarment, HHS—and particularly awarding agencies such as the NIH—can prevent known harassers or abusers from receiving additional federal awards across the federal government through these processes.   However, a 2022 HHS OIG report found several concerns during its audit of HHS’s suspension and debarment processes.  HHS OIG found that 84 percent of referrals came from non-awarding agencies—such as the OIG or Office of Research Integrity—rather than those offices charged with supervising ongoing grants.  This statistic raised concerns for the OIG about the extent to which awarding agencies were doing enough to identify and take action against bad actors and if agencies are missing opportunities for additional suspension and debarment referrals.  Another concern is the timeliness of the HHS suspension and debarment process and the limited use of suspensions during pending debarment proceedings.   The HHS OIG found that nearly half of suspensions implemented by ORIC did not meet its 60-day goal, with several suspensions taking longer than 300 days to implement.  Of the 134 debarments that ORIC implemented, nearly all involved grants, yet less than one-third of these debarments included a preceding suspension.  That means more than two-thirds of respondents may have maintained access to additional federal funding during the debarment process, with the longest case taking 1251 days or nearly three and a half years.  Moreover, for conviction-based debarments—in which the evidentiary threshold has generally already been met by the conviction or judgment—75 percent of conviction-based debarments implemented by ORIC did not meet its 100-day goal.  Rather, implementation took an average of 325 days and nearly a quarter of these debarments took over 500 days to be implemented.  The HHS OIG found numerous areas in which the timeliness, efficiency and effectiveness of HHS’s suspension and debarment program were negatively affected by internal factors.   Specifically, there is a very high turnover rate at both the staff and senior leadership levels of the suspension and debarment program, with ORIC’s full staffing levels being four personnel.  Moreover, seven different people served as HHS’s SDO—the official determining if suspension or debarment is to be implemented—in just four years.  With this kind of turnover, cases may fall through the cracks or be heavily delayed.   Moreover, HHS OIG found that a lack of policies and procedures regarding entering and tracking important case information and milestones plus a lack of guidance on what information is needed in fact-based referrals has limited the ability to suspend or debar individuals.  Specifically, ORIC was not able to suspend or debar several individuals due to a lack of documentation in the referral that showed a referring entity followed its own corrective-action escalation process prior to the suspension or debarment.  CLICK HERE to read the full letter.  TIMELINE OF INVESTIGATION:   August 10, 2021 : E&C Republican Leaders Question NIH’s Handling of Sexual Harassment Complaints    August 11, 2022 : E&C Republican Leaders follow up with NIH on Insufficient Response to its Letter on the NIH’s handling of Sexual Harassment    November 30, 2022 : E&C Republicans to NIH: Turn Over Previously Requested Information Ahead of New Congress    March 14, 2023 : E&C Republicans Press NIH for Information on Handling of Sexual Harassment Complaints    October 6, 2023 : E&C Republicans Signal Intent to Issue Subpoena to Obtain Information on NIH’s Handling of Sexual Harassment if Questions Go Unanswered    January 26, 2024 : Chair Rogers notifies NIH of Imminent Subpoena    February 5, 2024 : Chair Rodgers Subpoenas NIH for Documents Related to Investigation into Sexual Harassment at NIH and NIH Grantee Institutions   February 20, 2024 : HHS Responds on behalf of NIH to offer a rolling in camera document review to the Committee. Documents produced in the review have been highly redacted, including the redaction of the names of individuals convicted of criminal offenses, public news articles about individuals who have been found guilty of harassment, and redaction of the names of the institutions where the abuse occurred—effectively preventing the Committee from understanding if NIH continues to fund work performed by substantiated abusers at other institutions—a practice known as “pass the harasser.”   April 16, 2024 : E&C Republicans Expand Investigation into Sexual Harassment at NIH to now Include Review of HHS Office of Civil Rights Compliance Role  May 9, 2024 : E&C Republicans ask Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to provide the Committee with the legal basis requiring HHS to redact or hide the names of researchers determined to have committed sexual misconduct.