House Republicans Continue "Field Hearing" Trend Today in Oklahoma

The House Ways and Means Committee will hold its second field hearing today, in Yukon, Oklahoma.  The hearing entitled “The State of the American Economy: The Heartland” is part of an emerging new trend for the new Republican majority – the field hearing.  The Judiciary Committee has held a field hearing on the Southern border – and plans more.  The Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States and the Communist Party of China has also said it will hold field hearings.  House Republicans believe they do not receive fair treatment from the Washington press corps … a long-running complaint … so they plan to use their control of committees to bring their message directly to key areas of the country.  It is logistically challenging – getting Members to different locations across the country during session weeks – and it is more expensive.  But it is a trend that is likely to continue.  House Democrats do not like the idea – having to travel to participate in a Republican-themed hearing.  But if they choose not to participate, House Republicans are able to drive their message without any pushback.

House Democrats’ main annoyance this week, however, is focused on the White House.  A few weeks ago, the House passed a bill overturning the District of Columbia’s (DC) government’s rewrite of its criminal code.  The rewrite reduced criminal penalties, including for carjacking, at a time when DC’s crime rate is spiking.  At the time, the White House said the President opposed the bill – implying he would veto it if it reached his desk.  House Democratic leadership whipped the bill, driving down the number of Democrats who supported the measure.  Late last week, President Biden changed course and said he would sign the legislation – paving the way for an increase in Senate Democratic support for the bill and ensuring it will pass the Senate and head to the president’s desk for signature.  House Democrats feel blind-sided.  Some House Democrats would have voted for the bill and are now stuck defending a politically unpopular position of being soft on crime.  Other more progressive Democrats are seething about the White House abandoning DC government home rule by overturning a law passed by the D.C. government.

Life in the minority when your party controls the White House is often frustrating.  House Republicans who were in Congress for President Trump’s final two years while in the minority dealt with more than their fair share of Trump reversals on policy.  They can relate, but probably don’t sympathize with what House Democrats are feeling this week. 


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