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Republicans' chief House investigator vows to take on bureaucracy, starting with vaccine royalties

Rep. James Comer says it's time to "get rid of some of these useless bureaucrats who are just a drain on the American taxpayer."

Published: November 3, 2022 10:56pm

Updated: November 4, 2022 10:31am

The congressman who would lead the most powerful investigative committee in the House if Republicans win the midterms is sending an unmistakable advance warning to the permanent federal bureaucracy: It's time to "get rid of some of these useless bureaucrats who are just a drain on the American taxpayer."

Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the ranking Republicans on the House Oversight Committee, told Just the News on Thursday evening his top three investigative priorities include Biden family corruption, the insecure southern border and the origins and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comer said the latter category will include a deep review of the practices of the National Institutes of Health, including the large salaries, significant autonomy and royalties for taxpayer-funded drugs and vaccines they have collected over the last two decades.

"We're seriously concerned about not just the origination of COVID, but also a lot of the COVID spending," Comer said during a wide-ranging interview on the "Just the News, No Noise" television show. "We're concerned about the royalties that high ranking government officials were getting for vaccine sales. We're concerned about the slush fund at the NIH."

Comer's comments came after reports indicated the soon-retiring Dr. Anthony Fauci, the NIH's quarterback for the pandemic, was collecting the largest salary in the federal government at $434,000 a year, and will receive a lifetime pension exceeding $350,000 annually.

In addition, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) revealed this summer that 27,000 royalty payments totaling more than $193 million for drug, vaccine and other medical technologies were collected by 18,000 NIH employees.

Comer said federal bureaucrats have been given too much autonomy to act as they want without regard to the will of Congress or federal law, a dynamic he hopes to change using the power of the purse if the GOP wins control of the House in Tuesday's midterm elections.

"One of the things that just drives me crazy is the lack of respect by these government bureaucrats that continue to do whatever they want, whenever they want," Comer said. "And they spend whatever they want. The Congress orders these agencies to have certain budgets, they put, you know, line items in there, different types of spending. But then these bureaucrats turn around and they do what they want."

Comer said one tool he hopes to reinvigorate is the Holman Rule, a Civil War era rule that empowers Congress to defund a federal employee, program or office with a simple majority vote if they aren't following federal law or defying the will of Congress. Resurrecting the long-dormant rule has been suggested by some of Comer's colleagues, including Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.).

"Absolutely, it should be a useful tool for the American taxpayer," he said of the Holman Rule. "You know, one of the main priorities for me as chairman of the House Oversight Committee will be to get the backs of the American taxpayer. Nobody's been watching out for the taxpayers in this Democrat majority."

The rule "is something that we should use, and we should use it every day," Comer said. "And that's something that I want to use in my toolbox in the House Oversight Committee to try to shrink the size of government and get rid of some of these useless bureaucrats that are just a drain on the American taxpayer."

Comer also confirmed a story in Just the News on Thursday that he plans to investigate how the Homeland Security Department under Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has worked with a private consortium aiming to censor Americans on social media platforms. A letter was sent Wednesday demanding the agency turn over evidence to Comer's investigators.

"This administration, this Cabinet, particularly led by Mayorkas, would label anything they disagreed with as disinformation," he said. "We have constantly told this Cabinet and this administration to cut that out, that wasn't legal, that wasn't constitutional, and no tax dollars should be spent for any type of disinformation board or Ministry of Propaganda or whatever you want to call it. But yet they continue to circumvent the wishes and the orders of Congress."

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