Nominations Objectionsby Senator Chuck Grassley
Posted on 2013-02-26
GRASSLEY. Madam President. I intend to object to proceeding to
the nomination of Christopher Meade to be General Counsel to the
Treasury Department for the following reason: At his confirmation
hearing, I asked Mr. Meade for the Treasury Department's legal basis
for not responding to an oversight request I made regarding the
Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Mr. Meade is
currently the Acting General Counsel and his response appeared to
indicate that he interpreted a statute which states: ``Nothing in this
subsection shall be construed to prevent disclosure to either House of
Congress or to any duly authorized committee or subcommittee of the
Congress'' as a limitation on Congress' ability to access information.
The plain reading of the statute appears contrary to this
In addition, Mr. Meade appeared to interpret a statute which requires CFIUS to brief certain specified Members of Congress as restricting CFIUS' ability to brief anyone except those members. Again, the plain reading of the statute appears contrary to this interpretation. There is nothing in this statute which restricts Treasury from briefing any other Members of Congress.
In an attempt to give Mr. Meade an opportunity to clarify his statements and explain his legal reasoning I wrote Mr. Meade another letter asking him to explain his logic and legal reasoning. I expect his reply shortly.
The most important role a Department General Counsel plays is in the interpretation of statutes passed by Congress. If Congress cannot be satisfied that Mr. Meade will impartially and accurately interpret statutes, this is a grave concern. The issues I have raised appear uncontroversial. If a statute says that ``nothing'' in it can be construed to prevent the disclosure of information to Congress, I do not expect it to be interpreted to limit Congress' ability to access information. If a statute does not limit CFIUS' ability to brief Members of Congress, I do not expect it to be interpreted to limit CFIUS' ability to brief Members of Congress.
I strongly believe that Congress' job does not end once it passes a statute. It is our job to ensure that the Executive Branch enforces the statute the way it was written. I will object to proceeding to Mr. Meade's nomination until he demonstrates that he will interpret these statutes consistent with their plain meaning.
Bill Schultz Madam President, I would also like to express my opposition to moving forward with Bill Schultz as the General Counsel for the Health and Human Services Administration. My objection is due to the agency's refusal to respond to my oversight requests. It is not based on Mr. Shultz's qualifications or ability to do the job. I have met with Mr. Schultz and believe him to be fair and hard working.
However, as I mentioned to him during his nomination hearing and when I met with him personally--I have many unanswered letters and document requests pending with HHS. Specifically: I have received no response to my December 6, 2011, letter eliminating the age restriction on Plan B; I received no response to Chairman Issa and my April 5, 2012, letter to FDA regarding the monitoring of FDA employees; I received no response to my July 16, 2012, letter to FDA regarding the monitoring of FDA employees; I received no response to my July 24, 2012, letter to FDA regarding the monitoring of FDA employees.
This is unacceptable.
FDA intentionally spied on confidential communication with Congress, the Office of Special Counsel, and the whistleblowers private attorneys. Furthermore, in a meeting with my staff you indicated that one month was too long for letters from Congress to go unanswered. My letters have gone unanswered ranging from 7 months to over a year.
Until I receive answers to my letters and document requests, I am hesitant to agree to any movement on this nomination.