GOP’s new committee leaders prepare blitz of investigations

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans are promising aggressive oversight of the Biden administration once they assume the majority next year, with a particular focus on the business dealings of presidential son Hunter Biden, illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border and the originations of COVID-19.

Republicans won’t have enough votes to advance key legislative priorities if there is no Democratic buy-in, but their oversight of government agencies could put Democrats on the defensive and dampen support for the Biden administration going into the 2024 presidential elections.

Some lawmakers are expected to lead these investigations after the House Republicans elect their new committee chairmen:

JUDICIARY’S BIG ROLE

Rep. Jim Jordan from Ohio will be the next chairman for the House Judiciary Committee. Jordan helped form and then lead the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus and voted on Jan. 6, 2021, to object to counting Pennsylvania’s electoral vote. President Donald Trump thought so highly of Jordan that he presented the congressman with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Judiciary Committee is responsible for overseeing the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security and dealing with issues such as crime and immigration, and protecting civil liberties. It’s typically one of the most partisan committees on Capitol Hill, yet Jordan’s combative style stands out even there. It would be the committee where it would be possible to impeach any member of the Biden government, as some Republicans propose for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Jordan’s inquiries to the administration in recent months make clear the committee will investigate the FBI’s execution of a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. He has also advocated for a wide-ranging look at the Biden administration’s immigration policies and the origins of COVID-19.

“All those things need to be investigated just so you have the truth,” Jordan told conservative activists last summer at a conference. “Plus that will frame up the 2024 race when I hope and I think President Trump is going to run again and we need to make sure that he wins.”

OVERSIGHT’S LONG LIST

Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., is expected to serve as the next chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and has made clear that investigating President Joe Biden’s son Hunter will be one of his top priorities. The Republicans say their investigation of Hunter Biden’s business dealings is to “determine whether these activities compromise U.S. national security and President Biden’s ability to lead with impartiality.”

Comer has also laid the groundwork to investigate the U.S.-Mexico border crisis. He sent a letter to Mayorkas seeking an array of documents and communications pertaining to the administration’s border policy. “We cannot endure another year of the Biden Administration’s failed border policies,” the letter said.

But that’s just a slice the committee’s focus.

“We’re going to investigate between 40 and 50 different things,” Comer said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “We have the capacity. We’ll have 25 members on the committee, and we’re going to have a staff close to 70. So we have the ability to investigate a lot of things.”

The federal government’s spending in response to COVID-19 will also be scrutinized.

“We believe that there have been hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars wasted over the past three years, so that spans two administrations, in the name of COVID.

“We want to have hearings on that. We want to try to determine what happened with the fraudulent unemployment insurance funds, the fraudulent PPP loan funds, some of this money that’s being spent for state and local governments in the COVID stimulus money,” Comer said.

AFGHANISTAN IN FOCUS

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will soon have a new chairman, Rep. Michael McCaul (Republican from Texas). This committee will be looking into the U.S. withdrawal form Afghanistan. McCaul repeated his mid-October request for different documents and directed State Department to keep all records related the chaotic withdrawal. These records included 13 U.S. servicemen killed in a suicide bombing attack.

“The way it was done was such a disaster and such a disgrace to our veterans that served in Afghanistan. They deserve answers to the many questions we have,” McCaul said on ABC’s “This Week.” He added: “Why wasn’t there a plan to evacuate? How did it go so wrong?”

SPOTLIGHT ON ENERGY & TAXES

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Republican from Washington) is expected to be the next chair for the Energy and Commerce Committee. This committee has the most extensive jurisdiction of any congressional authorizing committee, ranging from health care to environmental protection and national energy policy. The origins of COVID-19 have been investigated by Republicans on the committee for months and they are expected to continue this work in the next Congress.

Reps. Jason Smith, R-Mo., Adrian Smith, R-Neb., and Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., have expressed interest in serving as the next chairman of the tax-writing House Ways & Means Committee, which has already been seeking documents related to the spending in the nearly $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that Democrats passed early last year. This committee has oversight of the IRS, which is often a target for GOP scrutiny and scorn.

KEY SPOTS ANOTHER

Similar leaders in other notable committees:

— Agriculture Committee: Glenn Thompson, R-Pa.

— Appropriations Committee: Kay Granger, R-Texas.

— Armed Services Committee: Mike Rogers, R-Ala.

— Budget Committee: Lloyd Smucker, R-Pa., Buddy Carter, R-Ga., and Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, have all expressed interest in the chairmanship.

— Financial Services Committee: Patrick McHenry, R-N.C.

— Homeland Security Committee: Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, Mark Green, R-Tenn., and Clay Higgins, R-La., have all expressed interest in the chairmanship.

— Intelligence Committee: Michael Turner, R-Ohio

— Natural Resources Committee: Bruce Westerman, R-Ark.

— Science, Space and Technology Committee: Frank Lucas, R-Okla.

— Transportation and Infrastructure Committee: Sam Graves, R-Mo.

— Veterans’ Affairs Committee: Mike Bost, R-Ill.