WASHINGTON, D.C. - (March 26, 2004) - Rep. Adam Schiff and members of the House Blue Dog Coalition - a group of Democratic Congressional members committed to fiscal responsibility - called on President Bush today to guarantee a fair and comprehensive investigation into recent allegations that Administration officials withheld the true fiscal impact of the Medicare bill (H.R.1) from Congress.
"As legislators, we cannot operate in an environment in which the dialogue between the Congress and the Administration is not open, candid and honest," Rep. Schiff said. "It is imperative that we get to the bottom of recent claims that senior Administration officials potentially withheld the true costs of the Medicare bill from Congress. We commend Secretary Thompson for launching an inquiry into the matter and urge the President to work with Secretary Thompson to ensure an objective, comprehensive investigation regarding these troubling allegations."
Schiff and members of the Blue Dog Coalition wrote to the President:
Dear Mr. President:
As Members of the Blue Dog Coalition, committed to ensuring both the financial and physical security of America, we understand that our nation faces a number of challenges - the ongoing war on terrorism, a stagnant job market, military obligations in Iraq, and a burgeoning federal budget deficit. As in the past, we are willing to work with the Administration to address these and other issues of national significance.
As we are sure you will agree, the timely provision of accurate information by Executive Branch departments is vital to Congress's ability to craft, debate and pass legislation to improve the welfare of the American people. Likewise, Congress must be committed to the free-flow of information to your office and the Executive Branch. If the American public is to have confidence in the decisions made in Washington, they must be sure that Members of Congress and the President value an open and fair discussion of the issues.
That is why the recent allegations by Medicare's chief actuary, Richard S. Foster, that former Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) Administrator Thomas Scully, instructed him not to share valuable information with Congress before the historic Medicare vote, is so troubling. Such a serious allegation, calling into question the Administration's candor with Congress, must be addressed quickly and thoroughly. Given the Blue Dog Coalition's concern with the fiscal impact of legislative proposals before Congress, we are particularly troubled that such information was potentially withheld. We understand that the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, has directed the agency's inspector general to conduct an inquiry into the allegation and we ask that you work with Secretary Thompson to ensure that the inquiry is conducted in a rigorously objective and comprehensive manner.
The Members of the Blue Dog Coalition have reached out to work with your Administration in the past to confront the issues facing our great nation and we will continue to look for opportunities to do so in the future. Timely and accurate information is critical to this endeavor, and we thank you for looking into this matter.
Other members of the Blue Dog Coalition that joined the letter include: Reps. Charlie Stenholm (TX), Jim Turner (TX), Earl Pomeroy (OR), Baron Hill(IN), Tim Holden (PA), David Scott (GA), John Tanner (TN), Gene Taylor (MS), Mike Thompson (CA), Lincoln Davis (TN), Dennis Cardoza (AZ), Jim Matheson, Allen Boyd (FL), Marion Berry (AR) Leonard Boswell (IA) Jim Cooper, Ellen Tauscher (CA), Dennis Moore (KS), Brad Carson (OK), Max Sandlin, (TX) Michael Michaud, Steve Israel (NY), Jane Harman, (CA) Mike Ross (AR), Chris John (LA), Ben Chandler (KY), Joe Baca (CA), Bud Cramer (AL), Rodney Alexander (LA), Ken Lucas (KY), Sanford Bishop (GA) and William Lipinski (IL).
Rep. Schiff represents California's 29th Congressional District, including the communities of Pasadena, Alhambra, Altadena, Burbank, East Pasadena, East San Gabriel, Glendale, Monterey Park, San Gabriel, South Pasadena and Temple City. He co-founded the Democratic Study Group on National Security and is a member of both the House Judiciary and International Relations Committees.