Democrats Should Bring Back Select Committees.
Updated: Dec 5, 2018
There was a time when Select Committees (congressional committees that are created to investigate a specific issue) were used in rare circumstances for legitimate purposes. The days of the Church Committee to investigate the CIA are long gone and Watergate Committee to investigate Watergate are long gone. In more recent times we've had more politicized select committees led by Republicans.
First there's the waste of time and money of the Benghazi investigations. According to Wikipedia there were a total of 10 investigations. After 9 investigations found nothing, including those by committees under Republican control, Republicans said "Fuck it. Let's do one more." This Select Committee promptly spent around $7 million and found nothing. Then idiot Kevin McCarthy lost the speakership, by claiming that the investigation hurt then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's poll numbers.
Then, they did one on Planned Parenthood. The Republicans created a Select Subcommittee to investigate fake videos showing alleged lawbreaking by Planned Parenthood. This farce led to the defamation of Planned Parenthood by Republicans in the Subcommittee hearings, while the people who made the videos were indicted in Texas and California.
Considering their recent track record, should Democrats bring back select committees? The answer is yes, so long as they follow a few ground rules. First: make it about a topic that is specific but still general enough so that investigators can discover a lot of interesting information. A committee to investigate the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting is too specific, but one for Russian election interference or Russian intelligence operations would do nicely. Second: It shouldn't be already directly covered by another committee. In the case of the Russian Investigation, it's probably covered by the Intelligence committee along with the Financial Services Committee if financial flows are under investigation. Third it should allow everybody in congress including Republicans to propose CREDIBLE and innovative solutions to real problems.
So here are some Select Committee suggestions (which could be made permanent):
1. Conflicts of Interest by Government Officials and Associated Persons (includes emoluments, business ties, lobbying, and campaign contributions given to family, friends, and associates)
2. Shareholder Control and Oversight of Businesses (includes how shareholders can provide checks on Boards of Directors and Executives, Executive Compensation, mediocre performance by boards and executives, and conflicts of interest)
3. Law Enforcement Accountability (includes policing police, judges, and prosecutors along with oversight of the criminal justice system)
4. Government Contracting (in the Defense Department especially this has gone out of control and should be examined, improved, and possibly reined in.)
5. Existential Threats To Humanity (from global pandemics, to out of control Artificial Intelligence, to asteroid impacts, this would be the committee for that)
6. Rise of Authoritarianism (including countries like Russia, Hungary, Brazil, China, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia etc. can investigate the erosion of norms and actions such as assassinations and kleptocracy, the United States could be included.)
7. Wealth and Income Inequality (investigates it and has real solutions to the crisis)