Republicans slam Dems for abruptly postponing key hearing where Interior secretary set to testify



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FIRST ON FOX: A top House Republican strongly criticized Democratic leadership Thursday for abruptly postponing a hearing in which Interior Secretary Deb Haaland was set to testify.

Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., the GOP leader on the Natural Resources Committee, wrote to Chairman Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., criticizing the Democratic leader for preventing “much needed transparency” into the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) decision-making process. The hearing was slated to be Haaland’s first appearance before a House committee this year and first before the Natural Resources panel in 14 months.

“How can our committee carry out essential oversight if administration officials won’t even come to Congress to answer questions?” Westerman told Fox News Digital in a statement. “It’s unacceptable that Secretary Haaland has not appeared before the Natural Resources Committee since June of 2021.”

“Everything from skyrocketing energy costs to the environmental impacts of illegal immigration to western drought to catastrophic wildfire falls under DOI’s purview, and the fact that Secretary Haaland hasn’t appeared to answer for this administration’s failed policies this year is extremely telling,” he continued. “Chair Grijalva needs to immediately reschedule this cancelled hearing.”

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House Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., speaks near an oil rig on Feb. 10, 2021, in Midland, Texas.
(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)

The hearing, which was scheduled for Thursday, has been indefinitely postponed and replaced with a markup hearing.

In his letter, Westerman noted Grijalva’s previous comments to the Trump administration stating that transparency is “fundamental to good governance and accountability.” In February 2019, Grijalva and former Rep. TJ Cox, D-Calif., penned a letter to former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt demanding more info on closed-door administration meetings.

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The Arkansas Republican added that committee Democrats are seemingly shielding Haaland from answering tough questions despite Grijalva’s past rhetoric. He said the DOI has repeatedly failed to fully respond to Congressional inquiries.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland testifies before a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Feb. 24, 2021.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland testifies before a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Feb. 24, 2021.
(Sarah Silbiger/Pool via AP)

“Secretary Haaland should appear before this Committee to answer for the decisions her agency makes, and we look forward to the prompt rescheduling of the postponed hearing,” Westerman wrote to Grijalva.

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“The American people deserve to hear directly from the Secretary as to why the Biden administration refuses to unleash our domestic energy resources, implements poor federal lands management strategies, and appeases environmental activist groups at the taxpayers’ expense,” he concluded.

Grijalva’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.