Throughout American history, the power to investigate has been one of key powers of the U.S. Congress. This power, shaped by the Congress itself and the courts, has evolved into a critical tool used to hold parties accountable and to promote effective legislation for the American people. Yet as much as it can be used to further the interests of all Americans, so too can it be used to further a party’s own political agenda. Today, the congressional investigation process has become overly-politicized, misused for fundraising purposes, and overseen by members of Congress who are not investigators by trade.
As a means of reform, the U.S. Congress should institute a neutral office to conduct an initial inquiry into matters referred by a congressional committee or subcommittee. Such an office could conduct an initial investigation of an issue in order and determine whether or not further inquiry would be merited. This will help ensure that investigations are vetted by a neutral, independent, and professional entity and preserve the trust of the American people.
Defending Against Projects of Faction: Reforming the Congressional Investigation Process,
Cath. U. L. Rev.
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