House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) and all Subcommittee Ranking Members sent a letter to Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) requesting all witnesses appearing at the Committee’s October 28, 2021 hearing on the oil and gas industry be treated equally, which means having the opportunity to appear remotely in any scheduled hearing. Democrats demanding in-person attendance from chief executive officers and trade organizations contradicts the precedent the Committee Democrats have set during the 117th Congress and only jeopardizes the authenticity of their own investigation.
“In May 2020, for the first time in the U.S. House of Representatives 230-year history, Democrats changed the House rules to allow proxy voting and remote committee hearings. While Republicans opposed this change, Democrats have continued to extend the rule. Most recently, on September 30, 2021, Speaker Pelosi extended the ability to conduct Committee business remotely until November 15, 2021. The decision was made after confirmation from the House Sergeant-At-Arms and Capitol physician that “‘a public health emergency is in effect due to a novel coronavirus.”’ Since this rule was first adopted in 2020, the Committee has not held a hearing without a virtual option. Why are you now demanding that oil and gas CEOs appear in person,” wrote the lawmakers.
“During the 117th Congress, over 100 witnesses have participated in hearings virtually before the Committee… These witnesses, however, should not be treated differently simply because Democrats do not like them or want a photo opportunity. If the purpose of inviting witnesses from the oil and gas industry is to obtain testimony, they should have the option to appear remotely like other witnesses this Congress. The demand for these witnesses to appear in-person reveals the real motivations of this investigation: to turn it into a spectacle,” concluded the lawmakers.
The Republican lawmakers are urging Committee Democrats to apply the same rules for hearings to all witnesses and not hold any group of individuals to a different standard simply to deliver partisan theatre.