Chair: Carolyn Maloney
Projected Grade for the 117th Congress
3 Investigative Oversight Hearings
16 Policy/Legislative Hearings
33 Total HearingsLast updated: July 31, 2021, 8:39 p.m.
This committee (known until the 116th Congress as the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform) is the House’s primary investigative committee. It traditionally has by far the most active investigative oversight schedule, and by tradition other House committees cede some of their oversight responsibilities to the committee. It tends to use its broad authority and large staff, which numbers close to 100, to hold hearings on news-making controversies and alleged scandals across the full range of government activities. It less often conducts months-long probes like its Senate counterpart, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), and it rarely conducts private sector investigations. Also unlike PSI, the House Oversight committee does not have a reputation for robust bipartisanship; in the past many of its hearings and other activities have been highly partisan in nature. Once known as the Government Operations committee, it retains legislative authority over the District of Columbia, the Census, the Postal Service, the civil service, etc. In addition to its government operations subcommittee, which has legislative and oversight jurisdiction, it has five oversight subcommittees without legislative authority: civil rights and civil liberties; economic and consumer policy; environment; national security; and the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, established in April 2020.
In addition to its oversight hearings, the committee has maintained a strong schedule of policy and fact-finding hearings, while holding very few legislative hearings. The committee was unusually active in the 113th and 114th Congresses (2013-16) under Chairs Darrell Issa (R, Cal.) and Jason Chaffetz (R, Utah), with each holding twice as many investigative hearings as the committee did during the two prior Congresses. Activity fell sharply in the 115th Congress (2017-18), the first year of the Trump administration, under new Chair Trey Gowdy (R, S.C.), former chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
In the 116th Congress (2019-20) with the gavel in the hands of New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney, the committee swung back into action. It held a record number of investigative hearings, despite the pandemic-shortened schedule. Unusually for the committee, a number concerned private sector conduct. Many looked into the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic crisis, for which the committee established a select subcommittee, chaired by Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), a powerful member of the House leadership. However, the number of policy and legislative hearings fell to one of the lowest figures of the period.
Among the other subjects investigated by the committee in the 116th Congress: high drug prices; alleged pre-election political meddling with the postal service; the economic and health impacts of climate change; safety and accountability issues in the $1 trillion F-35 strike fighter program; “The Administration’s Religious Liberty Assault on LGBTQ Rights”; alleged political meddling with the Census; and the impact on children of new air quality rules and changes in various assistance and housing programs.
It also looked into allegations of bullying and retaliation in the Coast Guard; the administration’s toughened deportation policy regarding critically ill children; the White House’s allegedly dysfunctional security clearance system; the rollback of auto fuel efficiency standards; “The Oil Industry’s Efforts to Suppress the Truth About Climate Change”; the widespread contamination of air and water by toxic chemicals known as PFAS; e-cigarette maker JUUL’s role in rising youth nicotine consumption; the Trump administration’s controversial family separation policy at the border; the administration’s response to devastating hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands; alleged Hatch Act violations by White House officials; Trump’s efforts to undo the Affordable Care Act; stonewalling by various government agencies on committee document requests; problems at the Transportation Security Administration; medical care at the VA; the Trump administration’s approach to the opioid crisis; the Trump administration’s alleged failure to confront white supremacy; excess profits at a Pentagon contractor; alleged profiteering on HIV drugs; Trump’s contentious relations with federal civil servants; and a hearing with convicted former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to hear his allegations that the President colluded in his illegal activities.
111th Congress: Edolphus Towns (D-NY)
112th Congress: Darrell Issa (R-CA)
113th Congress: Darrell Issa (R-CA)
114th Congress: Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)
115th Congress: Trey Gowdy (R-SC)
116th Congress: Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
117th Congress: Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
We are 39% of the way through the 117th Congress
House Committee on Oversight and Reform3 Investigative Oversight Hearings; 7% historical maximum
Number of Hearings
Committee Hearing Performance
* Adjustments have been applied so that committees' grades are not lowered by the constraints on hearings caused by Covid-19 [oversight-index.thelugarcenter.org/covid-19-statement]