Leading members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee are formally requesting that the White House turn over internal memoranda previously kept shrouded from Congress and the public's view after the information was disclosed to The New Yorker for a January 30, 2012, article entitled, "The Obama Memos." For more than two years, members of the Energy and Commerce Committee have sought access to this information, which details previously undisclosed tactics the Obama administration employed in conjunction with special interest groups as it was working to pass the controversial health care law. The members wrote yesterday to outgoing White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley and Chief of Staff Designee Jacob Lew reiterating previous requests for information and expressing concern that this information would be shared extensively with a single member of the news media, but that Congress and the American public had been denied the same ability to understand how critical -- and controversial -- decisions were made in crafting the law.
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), Health Subcommittee Vice-Chair Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) wrote:
"The White House has consistently refused our legitimate requests for information regarding this important piece of legislation, notwithstanding the fact that the President promised many times during the 2008 presidential campaign that the meetings and debates on any health care legislation would be broadcast to the public, and once in office promised to run the most open and transparent administration in history.
"It is outrageous that despite our multiple efforts to obtain information about the negotiations and deals entered into by the White House, Congress has only been provided with material previously made publicly available, while the administration selectively provides such information to The New Yorker.
"Finally, while the White House has so far studiously avoided asserting executive privilege and has simply refused to provide the requested information, by voluntarily providing this information to a reporter the White House has waived any right to refuse production of these materials based on claims of privilege. The White House should provide these documents to Congress immediately."