Rep. Darrell Isssa (R., Calif.) wasted no time mixing it up in his first hearing as chair of the House Oversight Committee. At the start of the hearing, he announced that all members would waive their opening statements and instead submit written copies into the record.
Ranking Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) was taken by surprise it seems, and questioned Issa’s break with tradition.
“I recognize that tradition is we hold the members, the witnesses here for sometimes an hour through opening statements. That is a tradition that I intend to break,” Issa said. “That doesn’t mean there won’t be opening statements in the future.”
[. . .]
Rep. Dennis Kucinich later interrupted and stated, “I’ve been in the Congress for 14 years, and I’ve never – it’s just unprecedented that the ranking member not be permitted to give an opening statement.”
Issa shot down Kucinich and continued to stop Rep. Stephen Lynch from voicing his opinion on the issue as well.
Issa’s right, witnesses often have to listen to a dozen or more committee members bloviate for an hour or more before they get a word in edge-wise. The chairman’s decision to cut to the chase and hear from star witnesses Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for TARP, and Treasury’s Tim Massad, is refreshing.