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Former members of Congress urge bipartisan oversight, cite constitutional duty

January 12, 2017

Former Sen. Carl Levin and seven other former members of Congress wrote congressional leadership Tuesday urging them to “fully and faithfully” meet their constitutional responsibility in overseeing the executive branch in a bipartisan manner.

Other signatories included former Sens. Richard Lugar (R-IN), Tom Daschle (D-SD), Tom A. Coburn, M.D., (R-OK), William Cohen (R-ME), and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), along with former Reps. Christopher Shays (R-CT), and Mickey Edwards (R-OK). The letter stated:

“The responsibility of Congress to oversee the operations of the Executive Branch does not vary based on the political party of the President or which party controls one or both houses of Congress. The responsibility is a Constitutional one that supersedes political considerations. It is a fundamental obligation designed to safeguard the rights and welfare of the American people.

Experience has also taught us that to the extent such oversight is conducted in a bipartisan manner – with Members from both parties participating and cooperating in the oversight effort, the interviews of individuals, the request for and review of documents, the fact-finding process, the selection of witnesses for a hearing, and the drafting of any report, findings, or recommendations – the better the American people are served.”

The letter was sent to House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer. Other recipients included chairs and ranking members of each congressional committee.

To view the complete letter, visit law.wayne.edu/lettertocongress.

Carl Levin retired from the U.S. Senate in 2015 after representing Michigan for 36 years. Levin is chair of the Levin Center at Wayne State University Law School and serves on the law school faculty as distinguished legislator in residence.

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