House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) opened today’s hearing on White House interference with EPA decisions by excoriating President Bush’s record with the rule of law. Stating that we are all bound by “the science, the facts, and the law,” Waxman charged that “President Bush seems to believe these rules don’t apply to him”:
On key issues, this Administration has pushed ahead with its agenda despite the evidence and the law. We know that’s what happened on the decision to launch the Iraq War. It happened again on decisions authorizing torture. And it happened when the White House fired independent and nonpartisan Justice Department officials.
For months this Committee has been investigating recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decisions relating to both global warming and new air quality standards. And after reviewing nearly 60 thousand pages of internal documents and interviewing officials involved in the rulemakings, we have found evidence that the White House again ignored the facts and the law.
Waxman concluded his opening statement by saying, “The president does not have absolute power, and he is not above the law.”
UPDATE: Empty Wheel at FireDogLake describes a confrontation between Rep. Waxman and Stephen Johnson over Johnson’s refusal to answer whether or not he discussed his rulings with the White House. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) interrupted the chairman until he said, “I will have you physically removed from this meeting if you don’t stop.”
UPDATE II: The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, chaired by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) has announced it “will hold a vote on a resolution recommending that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson be found in contempt of Congress for his refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued” by the committee. The vote will be held at 9:45 AM Thursday morning. The subpoena for documents relating to the EPA’s refusal to obey the Supreme Court mandate to regulate greenhouse gases was issued by a unanimous, bipartisan vote on April 2, a year after the Supreme Court decision.