Aside from health care, which dominated much of the discussion, voters at the town hall appeared to be concerned about the president’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. They urged MacArthur and other Republicans to stand up to the president and call for an independent investigation into Comey’s ouster and the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia.
“A special prosecutor is appointed by the president’s attorney general. I don’t see that as some silver bullet,” MacArthur said, adding he wanted to give the House and Senate Intelligence committees an opportunity to investigate the matter.
“We don’t oversee the executive,” he added, earning a round of loud boos from the audience. “Congress is not the board of directors of the White House.”
Nonsense. Oversight is an essential function of Congress. Melanie Marlowe addresses the topic in her chapter in Is Congress Broken?
As much as possible, Congress must reclaim its oversight role at the front end of the legislative process, not in post-action sniping. While Congress has various ways to compel testimony and investigate wrongdoing, its efforts would be well-spent on the hard work of writing tighter, clearer laws, thereby holding the executive branch and itself to higher standards, and becoming more professional. If Congress wants to be taken seriously, it must behave seriously. Although it’s a long game, institutional relevance can only be regained through proper constitutional steps.