CAGW Names Sen. Harry Reid March Porker of the Month

(Washington, D.C.) – Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) its March Porker of the Month for his blatant blocking of a bipartisan bill designed to empower federal agency inspectors general in their battles against waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced S. 579, the Inspector General (IG) Empowerment Act, on February 26, 2015.  The bill ensures that IGs have access to all agency records for their investigations, as clearly stated in the 1978 Inspector General Act, which created presidentially-appointed IGs.  When Sen. Grassley attempted to bring the bill to the Senate floor on December 15, 2015, Sen. Reid objected to the unanimous consent request, which would have allowed what should be a noncontroversial bill to pass on a voice vote.  Sen. Reid then refused to fully explain to his colleagues why he blocked the measure, simply stating that he and other unnamed senators were “concerned about it.”  Fellow Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), a former state auditor, was dumfounded at Reid’s opposition:  “There is no universe that the IG Act should mean anything less than what it says.”  Sen. Reid again refused to detail his objections when he was questioned by reporters on March 18, 2016.

An August 5, 2014 letter from 47 IGs to the House and Senate oversight committees detailed how certain Obama administration agencies such as the Peace Corps in 2011, and the Environmental Protection Agency in 2013-14, skirted and obstructed investigations by IGs since 2010.  Most notably, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel granted the FBI veto power when the DOJ IG requested certain documents in a memo released on July 23, 2015.  The IG’s straightforward message to the committees stated that “refusing, restricting, or delaying an IG's access to documents leads to incomplete, inaccurate, or significantly delayed findings or recommendations, which in turn may prevent the agency from promptly correcting serious problems and deprive Congress of timely information regarding the agency’s performance.”

The need for fully empowered IGs has not waned since Sen. Reid’s initial opposition.  But, after his March 18 refusal to respond to questions about his objection, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) assailed Sen. Reid’s tactics, saying, “Americans deserve a transparent and accountable government … it is particularly concerning that Minority Leader Reid refuses to disclose why these bipartisan, commonsense reforms are being blocked.” 

CAGW President Tom Schatz said, “Inspectors general are frontline fighters in the battle against waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in the federal government.  They should have unfettered access to any and all documents they need in order to hold agencies accountable and safeguard taxpayer dollars.  Allowing IGs to have such access has been the law since 1978, but due to the Obama’s administration’s actions, Congress has no choice but to tighten the requirements.  Sen. Reid’s unfathomable objection to this measure exemplifies his utter and complete disregard for protecting taxpayers.” 

For standing against accountability, transparency, and one of the taxpayers’ best friends in fighting waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in the federal bureaucracy, CAGW names Sen. Harry Reid its March Porker of the Month.

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.  Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.

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