Lowey Condemns Pompeo for Refusing to Testify on Trump’s Budget and Coronavirus Response

March 9, 2020
Press Release
Lowey to no-show Pompeo: Either “you are unable or unwilling to defend both the Trump administration’s budget and its chaotic and incompetent handling of this dire public health threat”

WASHINGTON — House Appropriations Committee and State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) today condemned Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for refusing to testify before the Subcommittee regarding the Trump administration’s budget request and its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter to Secretary Pompeo, Lowey expressed frustration with the State Department’s pattern of stonewalling the State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee, including its months-long failure to cooperate with the Subcommittee in finding a “mutually agreeable time” for the Secretary to fulfill the “time-tested requirement” of testifying on the President’s budget request.

“As a result, I have now been forced to cancel the hearing scheduled for March 10,” Lowey wrote. “Unfortunately, this is not the only example of your refusal to cooperate with the Appropriations Committee’s legitimate oversight work. Last year, you repeatedly refused a bipartisan request to appear before the Committee to explain the Trump administration’s policies in Central America, particularly as it related to aid to countries in the Northern Triangle.”

Lowey noted that Secretary Pompeo’s refusal to appear before the Subcommittee is particularly egregious given the need for the administration to brief lawmakers on its efforts to respond to the coronavirus using funds appropriated in the recent emergency supplemental.

“I am particularly exasperated by your refusal to appear in light of the global threat currently posed by the coronavirus. Last week, Congress passed an $8.3 billion emergency supplemental that included $1.25 billion in funding – which the Administration failed to request – under the jurisdiction of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee for a robust international response to the coronavirus and to prepare and protect the diplomatic and development staff who are truly on the front lines of this pandemic. It is imperative that the Appropriations Committee be briefed on your work to put these resources to productive use,” Lowey wrote. “I can only conclude that your refusal to respond to the Committee’s request that you appear before the Subcommittee tomorrow or to work with us to find a mutually agreeable date is because you are unable or unwilling to defend both the Trump administration’s budget and its chaotic and incompetent handling of this dire public health threat.”

The full text of the letter is below. A PDF copy is available here

March 9, 2020

The Honorable Michael R. Pompeo

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20230

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I write to express my deep disappointment with your continued refusal to cooperate with the Appropriations Committee, most notably your refusal to reply to my letter requesting that you testify before the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee about the Department of State and USAID’s $40.8 billion budget request.

As a former Member of Congress yourself, you know well that the Constitution vests the power of the purse with Congress and that the House and its Appropriations Committee originate legislation to fund the federal government. It is a time-tested requirement of the annual appropriations process that department and agency heads appear before the Appropriations Committee’s relevant subcommittees to explain and defend the President’s budget request.

My staff began reaching out to the State Department in December 2019 to schedule your appearance before the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee. When my staff did not receive a substantive response, I wrote to you on January 22, 2020, about scheduling a hearing on the State Department’s budget request for March 10, 2020 and offering to work with you to find a mutually agreeable time if you were unavailable on March 10. Once again, you and your staff failed to provide any substantive response. As a result, I have now been forced to cancel the hearing scheduled for March 10.

Unfortunately, this is not the only example of your refusal to cooperate with the Appropriations Committee’s legitimate oversight work. Last year, you repeatedly refused a bipartisan request to appear before the Committee to explain the Trump administration’s policies in Central America, particularly as it related to aid to countries in the Northern Triangle.

I am particularly exasperated by your refusal to appear in light of the global threat currently posed by the coronavirus. Last week, Congress passed an $8.3 billion emergency supplemental that included $1.25 billion in funding – which the Administration failed to request – under the jurisdiction of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee for a robust international response to the coronavirus and to prepare and protect the diplomatic and development staff who are truly on the front lines of this pandemic. It is imperative that the Appropriations Committee be briefed on your work to put these resources to productive use.

I can only conclude that your refusal to respond to the Committee’s request that you appear before the Subcommittee tomorrow or to work with us to find a mutually agreeable date is because you are unable or unwilling to defend both the Trump administration’s budget and its chaotic and incompetent handling of this dire public health threat.

The American people deserve to understand how the Executive Branch is spending and proposing to spend their tax dollars.

Mr. Secretary, it is your obligation to come and answer these pressing questions.

Sincerely,

 

Nita M. Lowey

Chairwoman

Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

Committee on Appropriations

United State House of Representatives

 

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116th Congress