With Republicans preparing to take control of the House, Senate and White House for the first time in a decade, Democrats fear the GOP is going to give the incoming Trump administration a pass when it comes to oversight.
But longtime Trump supporter U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., said Democrats are complaining about nothing.
“Get over it. Quit whining. This is the election. This is the way the people wanted it,” he said. “And if you don’t want to get over it, that’s your problem.”
Democrats are not getting over it, and they say neither should the GOP.
U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Philadelphia, who serves on the House Oversight Committee, signed a letter with Democrats on the committee asking for Republicans to hold hearings on potential conflicts of interest in the Trump White House. Boyle said it’s hypocritical for the GOP to President Obama and Hillary Clinton under a microscope, but now say it’s premature to look into Trump.
“Now that we have a president-elect who has glaring, almost unprecedented conflicts, it’s radio silence from the chairman and the majority,” he said. “They have a duty to investigate these numerous conflicts that have now been documented.”
Trump promised to hold a press conference on Dec. 15 to disclose how he plans to turn over the reins of his businesses after he takes the oath of office, but he’s now delayed that until next year. Still, many Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance of New Jersey, are taking Trump at his word.
“I was pleased to read he sold his stock holdings — and apparently did so in June,” Lance said. “I believe the president-elect, and I’m sure his hotel real estate holdings are likely to be managed, not by him personally, but by others and I think that is for the good. And he has indicated he is going to put the good of the country first.”
Checks and balances to be in effect
South Jersey Republican Tom MacArthur said Congress has a role to play, but it’s too soon to know what that will look like.
“There are three branches of government that are co-equal, and I would hope we don’t have to do a lot of checking and balancing,” he said. “But that is one of Congress’ roles.”
One area where the Republican-controlled Congress will need to be active is keeping federal agencies in line, MacArthur said.
“More than a president, there are over a million employees in the federal government, the executive branch of the federal government, and no one person can keep all of them reined in,” he said. “And I think one of Congress’ goals, certainly one of my goals, is to make sure these agencies don’t go rogue under whoever is president.”
And if President Trump over-reaches his power, MacArthur said he and other Republicans will be there to hold him to his constitutional obligations.
“I’m going to do the job I was elected to do. I answer to 750,000 people in South Jersey that sent me here on their behalf, and while I’m not expecting that we have to rein in our new president, I will always do what I have to do to protect our Constitution,” he said. “That’s the oath I swore. I didn’t swear an oath to one person. I swore an oath to the U.S. Constitution.”
Other Republicans brush aside the criticisms that the GOP is going to go easy on the new president. Another longtime Trump supporter in Congress, Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania, said members of the GOP spoke out against their party’s nominee during the election. He said that kind of criticism will continue.
“Just look at how Republicans acted during the campaign. There were Republicans that didn’t support Donald Trump and were vocal about it, unlike the Democrats where they couldn’t find one Democrat to criticize Hillary Clinton, which is pretty remarkable,” Barletta said.
One thing both sides agree on is that the nation is in uncharted territory with a billionaire real estate magnate preparing to lead the country. While Democrats say that raises red flags, many Republicans said Trump is bringing needed change to the nation’s capital.