[Sen. Byron] Dorgan, chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, which will sponsor the hearings, said they will begin in January, with the subject of the first couple of sessions to be announced later this month.
Republicans will be invited, and the Democrats will not conduct hearings on a particular subject if a GOP-controlled committee decides to do so, said Dorgan and incoming Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), who joined Dorgan by satellite from Las Vegas.
Dorgan and Reid listed possible targets for the hearings, including contract abuses in Iraq, the administration’s use of prewar intelligence, misleading cost estimates for the Medicare drug benefit, the cost of the administration’s plan for private Social Security accounts, the implementation of the No Child Left Behind education bill and administration policies on global warming.
“This is not about gotcha politics. . . . This is about oversight,” Dorgan said. “If the majority party won’t do it, we will.” There was no immediate response from GOP leaders.
Reid said he thought the Foreign Relations Committee was doing a “pretty good job” on oversight, and he expected the newly expanded Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to perform well. But, with Republicans in control of the executive and legislative branches of government, most other panels have virtually given up on investigations and oversight, Dorgan and Reid said.