Congress unlikely to investigate Hurricane Maria disaster in Puerto Rico unless Democrats take the House
Congressional Republicans have begun to speculate about the potential investigations that Democrats could launch if they are able to retake the House of Representatives in the upcoming midterm elections.
Control of the House would give massive oversight power to the Democrats, a power that they charge Republicans have not used enough under President Donald Trump. If Democrats win the majority, they will have the power to launch investigations, subpoena witnesses, and hold public hearings on just about any issue that they would like.
Republicans on Capitol Hill have privately begun preparing for the worst should they lose their majority after the midterm elections. Some of the probes they fear Democrats could launch include: President Trump’s tax returns, Trump’s businesses, collusion with Russia, the Stormy Daniels payment, James Comey’s firing, the transgender ban for the military, Jared Kushner’s ethics law compliance, the travel ban, election security, White House security clearances, and the federal response to the Hurricane Maria recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.
Wielding congressional oversight power would have major implications for the Trump White House. In addition to the hearings that will almost certainly feature Democratic members of Congress pressing administration officials for answers, the potential congressional investigations would involve requests for sworn testimony, efforts to seize internal communications, and subpoena threats.
The Trump White House is reported to be unprepared for the wide scope of investigations that could be launched at the president from a Democratic House majority.
Conservative commentators, including Senator Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina, have said that Trump and his administration would be “investigated to death” if the House flips. On the other hand, Democrats are seizing on the potential for a congressional flip and framing it as a good governance issue. Representative Elijah Cummings (D) of Maryland has stated that Democrats will simply be doing what Republicans have refused to do–”conduct independent, fact-based, and credible investigations of the Trump Administration.”
Thus far, most Democratic requests for investigations have been rejected. Without the majority, however, the GOP loses all power to stop such requests.