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Vitter Summary Statement for Hearing on Various Nominations
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works “Hearing on the Nominations of Rhea Sun Suh, Victoria Baecher Wassmer, Thomas A. Burke, and Roy K.J. Williams”
December 17, 2013

Thank you, Chairman Boxer for convening today's hearing. I would also like to thank our nominees for being here. I would be remiss if I did not express my concern over the scope of this hearing as the Chairwoman has called four Presidential nominees from three distinct agencies. This scope should warrant a more thorough Committee review than this rushed end of the year hearing. Unfortunately, the nature of our current Senate is that we have had a limited opportunity to do appropriate oversight. Because that is the case, I'd like to take this opportunity to review some significant concerns about the failure of the Committee to fulfill its oversight role before I specifically discuss our nominees.

The EPA is wrought with mismanagement and a lack of appropriate responsibility to account for taxpayer dollars. The most blatant and recent example of this ineptitude is the case of our now infamous, fake CIA agent, John Beale. Beale's scam was made possible by widespread incompetence within the agency's leadership. The Committee has also failed to hold a budget hearing that might have uncovered some of the financial mismanagement we see at the EPA. A budget hearing is a fundamental responsibility of this Committee - yet one that we have unfortunately neglected.

In addition to these concerns, the agency is in perpetual overdrive executing the President's extreme climate agenda to eliminate the use of fossil fuels, which in reality only has the ultimate impact of increasing the price of energy, being a regressive tax on consumers, and making America less competitive internationally. Yet, despite repeated promises, the Chairwoman has failed to hold a climate change oversight hearing with EPA and other administration officials. While that hearing is to be schedule for the New Year, I hope the Chairman is willing to commit today that the witnesses will include EPA, Interior, Commerce, OSTP, NOAA, Treasury, DOE, State Department and the ExIm Bank.

Significant concerns can also be directed to the Department of the Interior, where Ms. Suh has served in a leadership role for the previous four and a half years, in a similarly dubious manner. The Department, which is charged with managing our lands for multiple uses, has focused instead on an anti-fossil fuel agenda. The Administration's policies use questionable scientific and economic analysis to cut off water to farmers, to restrict Native Americans from producing their own resources, and to eliminate access to any type of resource production that the liberal-left tells them isn't appropriate.

Just as offensive, the Interior Department has gone to new levels to expand upon the practice of negotiating closed-door settlement agreements with radical environmental organizations that exclude all the people that are actually impacted. And yet our Committee remains silent.

This is not the limited government dreamed of by our founding fathers. In fact, the secrecy and unending regulatory onslaught that promises to further undermine our national economy is overwhelming.

The current state of affairs is not offensive just to those on my side of the aisle. Let me quote Jonathan Turley, a supporter of President Obama and the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, who stated:

"There is ample room given to a president in setting priorities in the enforcement of laws. Even with this ample allowance, however, I believe that President Barack Obama has crossed the constitutional line between discretionary enforcement and defiance of federal law."

Professor Turley further states:

"[President Obama] is not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system; he becomes the very danger that the Constitution was designed to avoid."

This extreme overreach is the reason that Congressional oversight is important, and frankly, the Senate - and in particular the EPW Committee - has failed to uphold our constitutional duty and has given the Administration an ability to circumvent the law.

The only way to ensure an ever-expanding federal bureaucracy does not crush the liberties of our fellow Americans is through aggressive oversight. That oversight is our responsibility. And in measuring that responsibility this Democrat-controlled Senate, and in particular this committee, has failed.

If confirmed, these nominees will be in critical positions to either follow suit with this extreme Administration or break from these troublesome practices and act in a manner that is consistent with the law and in the interest of the American people. As such, I have a number of questions for today's nominees, but unfortunately, we'll only have a limited amount of time to ask them. For those questions that I do not have time to ask, I will submit them for the record to which I request the nominees commit to thorough and timely responses.

Thank you. I look forward to hearing from the nominees.

 

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