Freedom Caucus chair floats novel remedy for recalcitrant bureaucrats: Forfeiture of office space

When GOP committee chairs "are issuing subpoenas, and these folks either won't produce documents or won't show up — well, okay, then we have a tool in our chest," said Rep. Scott Perry.

Updated: March 3, 2023 - 11:39pm

House Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Scott Perry had some in the media reaching for their smelling salts with a proposal he floated Thursday at CPAC about how House Republicans can use their new power of the purse to compel compliance with congressional oversight demands.

If federal bureaucrats or Biden appointees refuse to comply with requests for testimony or documents, Perry proposed, deny their agencies federal office space.

It's not clear they really need the space they have anyway, the Pennsylvania Republican suggested Thursday in an interview on "Just the News, No Noise." 

"We look at the leases of all these federal agencies, and certainly since COVID, many of these employers are working remotely," Perry said. "Why are we paying for leased space when the employees don't show up? And as importantly, when Jim Jordan, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and when [James] Comer, the chairman of the Oversight Committee, are issuing subpoenas and these folks either won't produce documents or won't show up — well, okay, then we have a tool in our chest, which means that you don't need the office space, apparently."

Interviewed live in National Harbor, Md., from CPAC, the leading national conclave of conservatives on the annual politcial calendar, Perry was asked how Republicans have managed to reel off a string of suprisingly bipartisan legislative victories on a range of conservative priorities, including getting tough on China. The secret, according to Perry, is deceptively simple: Don't raise the white flag before the first shot has been fired.

"When Republicans, when conservatives, when commonsense Americans fight for something and stand up for something, they can win," he said. "But so often, we just surrender, we just give in, we give in before the fight happens, and we cannot do it. The country is in peril. It's heading in the wrong direction. It's heading there at a faster pace than than most people have ever seen before in their lives, and they're concerned about it."

Meaningful, lasting change in the direction of the nation has to well up from beyond the Beltway, Perry argues — and whether in the corridors of power or at the grassroots, the better part of success is, as Woody Allen once quipped, just showing up.

"We all have a part to play" in reversing the tide, Perry said, "whether it's a member of Congress that's voting on things, or whether it's constituents that visit their school board meetings or call their members of Congress and say, 'Hey, I don't want you voting for this' or 'Why did you vote that way?' or, you know, 'What's happening in my own town with the curriculum that my children are being taught?'

"And so that is the art of the deal, and the first part of the art of the Deal is showing up for the deal."

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