An overhaul of oversight is overdue, but partisanship isn’t what the Founders had in mind
Tom Coburn, R-Okla., left, and Carl Levin, D-Mich., ride the Senate subway in 2011, when both were still in Congress. The pair led hearings on the causes of the 2008 financial crisis. (Tom Williams/Roll Call file photo)
OPINION — Congress is in desperate need of a course correction. Some may think it’s about to happen, because the Democrats have now taken control of the House. But we’re referring to a different kind of course correction. For the past ten years or so, Congress has largely ignored its constitutional responsibility to serve as a check on the excesses of the executive branch and to do so in a bipartisan manner. That’s what needs to change.
We both served for many years in the Senate, and here’s what we observed: When oversight hearings were held more for political purposes than for real fact-finding purposes, they didn’t work. Hearings like these may have been the exception rather than the rule, but they damaged Congress’ reputation. They didn’t uncover the facts, and they didn’t have the confidence of the American people.