You are hereHuffington Post: Rep. Darrell Issa Escalates Fight With House Oversight Committee Democrats

Huffington Post: Rep. Darrell Issa Escalates Fight With House Oversight Committee Democrats

-by Amanda Terkel

October 17, 2011- Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has begun to assert veto control over how Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee can travel with their staff, escalating tensions on an already fractious panel.

The latest dispute centers around a request by Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) to take two Democratic committee staffers with him to a drug control policy forum in Chicago on Monday evening. Davis is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census and the National Archives, which has jurisdiction over drug control policy.

The committee chairman needs sign off on reimbursements for staff travel, but normally, such requests are routinely approved. Issa, who serves as chair, denied Davis' request.

On Thursday, Oversight Democrats sent a letter to Issa, objecting to his decision and raising concerns about the precedent he was setting.

"Your new policy appears to be that travel by Democratic staff is not for 'official Committee business' unless a Republican joins them," they wrote. "This interpretation is unprecedented and contradicts the Committee’s policy when you were in the Minority. According to Committee records, in December 2010 -- when you were still the Ranking Member of the Committee -- you were accompanied by four minority staffers on a trip to attend unidentified '[m]eetings with technology companies.' You were reimbursed thousands of dollars even though no majority Committee Members or staff joined you."

Jeffrey Solsby, a spokesman for the majority staff on the committee, said Republicans determined that Davis' forum was a personal, not committee, matter.

"The committee didn't feel it was appropriate to allow committee resources to be spent on non-committee business," he said.

Issa also sent Davis a letter offering to schedule a field hearing in Chicago "in the coming weeks" on "national and local initiatives to prevent and treat drug addiction."

But Democrats are arguing that a field hearing shouldn't preclude them from using their own travel budget to send staffers to the forum.