On Tuesday, January 3, 2023, members of the 118th United States Congress will get sworn in, and the Republican Party will regain control of the House of Representatives for the first time since the 115th Congress. The thing is, the GOP fell short of historical expectations and polls only to win by a slim margin, and they are now grappling with a humiliating speakership crisis and an increasingly toxic yet tenacious Donald Trump and George Santos.
Despite these woes, House Republicans appear to be hoping that if they use their newfound power to flood the news cycles with multiple investigations of their political opponents, Americans will suddenly realize that President Biden and the Democrats are the deranged, amoral evildoers after all. Fortunately, the Biden administration just made a move that ensures these desperate, soulless Republican “leaders” won’t hit the ground running in 2023.
White House Special Counsel Richard Sauber sent letters to Reps. James Comer and Jim Jordan with disappointing news about their requests for the information they have been seeking to launch their dubious probes. Although Comer and Jordan are expected to become the chairs of the House Oversight and Reform and House Judiciary committees, respectively, they are currently only the ranking members of those committees—and therefore not in a position to make such requests.
As Sauber explained in separate letters written Thursday to Comer and Jordan, these information requests were made during the 117th Congress without constitutional authority. Sauber pledged, however, that any requests made in the 118th Congress will be considered “in good faith, consistent with the needs and obligations of both branches.”
After requesting the information in November, Jordan wrote to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain to warn the White House against failing to comply by the end of the 117th Congress. Jordan threatened that “the Committee may be forced to resort to compulsory process to obtain the material we require.”
Contrary to Jordan’s upside-down framing of the situation, the White House’s response is neither one of kneejerk obstructionism nor disregard for the rule of law, as has become the Republicans’ trademark recently. On the contrary, the White House is following the law and the Constitution. As Sauber pointed out, “Congress has not delegated such [oversight] authority to individual members of Congress who are not committee chairmen, and the House has not done so under its current Rules.”
As we head into the new year and voters focus more on the 2024 presidential election, Republicans were hoping to start strong with their highly flawed and desperate campaign to tarnish President Biden’s reputation. However, the White House legal team swiftly dashed the GOP’s hopes and elegantly neutralized this latest lame political stunt. There is no room for Democratic defeatism in 2023.