Congress prepares for State of the Union address amid division, investigations

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 1:55 PM CST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Just days away from President Joe Biden’s second State of the Union address, Republicans in the House are gearing up for multiple investigations regarding his administration. With the 118th Congress underway and power split between the chambers, tensions are high on Capitol Hill.

“We are going to provide real oversight and the White House is just going to have to get used to it,” said Rep. James Comer (R-KY), chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

Comer argues there has been little accountability with Democrats in control of Congress, who he says focused their investigations on former President Trump. Comer’s top priorities in his new post include investigating the misuse of tax dollars, the Biden White House mishandling the Afghanistan withdrawal, the crisis at the southern border, the Biden family taking money from adversaries, and mishandling of classified documents – a list that draws questions of partisanship.

“I think with respect to the Biden family influence peddling - at the end of the day, you’re going to see bipartisan legislative solutions to the problem,” said Comer.

As for whether the committee will have any questions for former President Trump, Comer says that will come eventually.

“We’re going to have questions for Trump at the end of the influence peddling investigation because, as I said, there’s going to be a fix. We’re always going to have presidents that have family members that are involved in international business,” said Comer.

While Comer boasts bipartisanship, he also applauds former Vice President Mike Pence’s cooperation with the committee over his handling of classified documents, while attacking President Biden’s lack of cooperation with his committee.

Democrats fear these investigations are distractions and being conducted in bad faith, fueling the division fire seen on Capitol Hill and around the country.

“I think it’s unfortunate. It’s an unfortunate use of time. I think Americans want us to get busy and solve the actual problems that we have,” said Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Alaska).

Peltola says there are many issues that deserve bipartisan attention. She adds many of the Republican investigations should be done by the Department of Justice.

Political expert Mark Rom from Georgetown University says the current Republican House does not trust outside entities to conduct these probes. Rom says some of their investigative agenda could be productive on things like COVID and the Afghanistan withdrawal. But he says others, like investigating the president’s family, will just increase polarization.

“(They are) kind of more show trials than serious investigations. Those may be important to the Republicans investigating them, but not so important to the American public,” said Rom.

The Oversight committee’s first hearing surrounds wasteful pandemic spending. Comer also scheduled a hearing on the border for the same day as President Biden’s State of the Union address on February 7.