Balancing Executive and Legislative Branch Interests in Congressional Oversight

Administrative Law & Regulation Practice Group and Article I Initiative Teleforum

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One might expect that by now the Legislative and Executive Branches would have worked out some understood and accepted protocols for balancing the interests of the Legislative Branch in satisfying its oversight obligations, and of the Executive Branch in enforcing the laws (and investigating their possible violation) without disruptive interference. However, year after year, Congress seeks information the Executive refuses to provide.  During the last Administration, Congress seemed powerless to enforce its determination to get to the bottom of DOJ’s Fast & Furious, IRS’s Tea Party targeting, and other apparent agency scandals.  Now, some suppose that it is the Department of Justice’s ongoing investigation into the last Administration’s conduct during the 2016 election season that is preventing it from providing, at least for now, all the information Congress requests on that subject.  News reports of this conflict between two co-equal branches of government saturate newspapers, the airwaves, and the internet.  Most focus on Congress’s right to and need for the information, without acknowledging legitimate reasons the Administration might have for withholding it or delaying its production. 

This teleforum offers a balanced representation of the competing interests.  Morton Rosenberg, retired Congressional Research Service Senior Legal Analyst and author of When Congress Comes Calling: A Study on the Principles, Practices, and Pragmatics of Legislative Inquiry, explains the history of and authority for Congressional demands for information from Executive Branch agencies.  Washington attorney William Moschella, a former Congressional Staff Counsel who later became President George W. Bush’s Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs  - the office responsible for DOJ’s responses to Congressional inquiries  - offers insight into the considerations accompanying such responses.   


William Moschella, Shareholder, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP

Morton Rosenberg, Fellow, The Constitution Project at the Project On Government Oversight

Moderator: Hon. Eileen J. O'Connor, Law Office of Eileen J. O'Connor, PLLC

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