[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 201 (Thursday, December 20, 2018)]
[Pages S7982-S7984]


  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, oversight is one of the most important 
responsibilities of this legislative branch. The Constitution requires 
  Without oversight, the Members of this body cannot legislate in the 
best interests of their constituents, nor can they ensure the 
government is accountable to the taxpayers.
  In whatever capacity I have served my own fellow citizens of Iowa 
over the years, I have always strived to faithfully carry out my duty 
to conduct oversight.
  The same is true of these last 4 years that I have been honored to 
serve as the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
  The agencies under the committee's jurisdiction are some of the most 
powerful and most consequential in the executive branch.
  Our Nation's law enforcement agencies have the authority to seek to 
search and seize our property and review our communications.
  When warranted, they may bring charges that can result in 
disgorgement of financial resources or loss of personal liberty.
  That is because these agencies have the equally weighty 
responsibility to protect us from criminal and intelligence threats of 
all stripes.
  These agencies help protect the taxpayer from fraud, hunt down 
violent offenders and fugitives, protect our senior leaders and judges, 
and dismantle illicit networks that traffic in illegal drugs, 
endangered wildlife, and worst of all, human beings.
  They safeguard our borders, secure our transportation and cyber 
networks, and return kidnapped children to their families.
  That is just a fraction of the many responsibilities of the 
Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.
  I am grateful for the faithful public service of thousands of law 
enforcement agents, analysts, lawyers, engineers, scientists, officers, 
managers, and other employees who make up these agencies.
  That includes especially those individuals who have not only done 
their jobs, but have truly gone above and beyond.
  A lot of times, they don't like being called whistleblowers because 
they never meant to be whistleblowers.
  But these employees, hundreds of them in the last 4 years, have 
courageously raised their hands and disclosed waste, fraud, abuse, 
mismanagement, and all sorts of misconduct.
  I could not have fulfilled my oversight responsibilities without 
  Because of whistleblowers, the committee: uncovered a pattern of 
wasteful spending at the U.S. Marshals Service.
  Turns out, the Marshals Service spent $22,000 on a conference table 
for the Asset Forfeiture Division's headquarters in Arlington, VA, and 
$50,000 a month on a lavishly furnished training facility in Houston, 
TX, that was used for only a few weeks out of the year.
  Thanks to the whistleblowers and the work done by this Committee, I 
am happy to report that the Marshals Service closed that facility 
earlier this year.
  Whistleblowers have also highlighted examples of gross mismanagement 
within the agency.
  For example, we know that, last year, roughly 2,000 deputy marshals 
were using expired or soon to be expired body armor. We also uncovered 
instances of unfair hiring practices and other serious ethical 
  In total, over 100 whistleblowers from the U.S. Marshals Service 
courageously came forward. I thank them for their bravery and 
commitment to government transparency.
  After supervisors ignored their warnings, whistleblowers at the 
Department of Homeland Security came forward to raise awareness on how 
smugglers prey on unaccompanied minors and migrants.
  A courageous whistleblower told my office that Health and Human 
Services were not conducting thorough background checks on sponsors 
before they took custody of the children.
  Now, all sponsors and those living with sponsors, are fingerprinted 
before they can bring a child home. This whistleblower also reported a 
dangerous tactic used by smugglers to pair kids with unrelated adults 
to create the appearance of family units.
  Smugglers would use kids like pawns in an effort to help adults avoid 
detention when coming across our border. Now, U.S. Government officials 
are working with their counterparts in Mexico to investigate and crack 
down on the smuggling that occurs on the lengthy journey to the United 
  Whistleblowers also contacted my office during the Obama 
administration about criminals who should be ineligible for DACA, but 
due to an oversight by the Department, were still receiving benefits, 
like work authorization. Scrutiny of the program led to more thorough 
recurrent vetting by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  Thanks to more than 10 whistleblowers at the Bureau of Alcohol, 
Tobacco, and Firearms who courageously reported that their sexual 
harassment claims were being buried internally, then-Attorney General 
Lynch updated the sexual harassment policy and a problematic official 
in internal affairs was replaced.
  The GAO is currently assessing how reports of abuse are reviewed and 
adjudicated at ATF.
  I have also had the pleasure of working with a number of 
whistleblowers at the Department of Veterans Affairs who have had the 
courage to stand up and do what is right.
  Most recently, my office worked with Brandon Coleman after he was put 
on administrative leave for more than a year and kept from running an 
addiction treatment program for veterans.
  Brandon's only ``mistake'' was to point out poor treatment of 
suicidal veterans.
  Eventually, after a concerted effort by my office, Senator Johnson, 
and the Office of Special Counsel, Brandon was provided a new position 
within the VA's Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection. 
That is how it should be done.
  Although the False Claims Act isn't new, I want to point out that is 
still working hard for the taxpayers.
  Because of the 1986 amendments to the act and all of our efforts to 
strengthen it, whistleblowers were empowered to help the government 
fight fraud.
  In the last 4 years, thanks largely to whistleblowers, the government 
has recovered $17 billion under the False Claims Act.
  That makes $56 billion since the 1986 amendments.
  These are only a few examples of what has been achieved because of 
whistleblowers. They have saved our money, made us safer, and held our 
government accountable.
  Our oversight efforts have also helped us write better laws.

[[Page S7983]]

  Through my investigations, I learned about problems with how the 
Department of Veterans Affairs reports veterans to the national gun ban 
list, called the NICS list.
  Once you are on the list, you can no longer own and possess a 
  And there is an unfair double standard at work here.
  The VA never determines a veteran to be dangerous before taking away 
firearms, but to get their firearms back, the veteran is required to 
prove that they are not dangerous.
  The Obama Social Security Administration created a rule that would 
allow it to report beneficiaries to the NICS list without ever finding 
the beneficiaries to be mentally ill or dangerous--just like what the 
VA does to veterans.
  If the Federal Government is going to attempt to take away a 
citizen's fundamental constitutional right, it better have one heck of 
a compelling reason to do so.
  If a person isn't mentally ill, dangerous, or subject to some other 
Federal restriction, then the government is on shaky ground.
  This Obama Social Security regulation was a pure and simple 
unconstitutional gun-grab.
  So I worked to pass legislation with bipartisan support to terminate 
the regulation, 57 to 43.
  I have also worked to pass strong legislation to support the critical 
work done by inspectors general. In 2016, a broad bipartisan coalition 
of legislators passed the Inspector General Empowerment Act that 
reiterated Congress's intent that IGs be able to access ALL agency 
  It also gave IGs better tools that enable them to do their jobs more 
effectively, including the ability to conduct investigations without 
getting agency approval. It also strengthened public reporting 
requirements to ensure as much transparency as possible.
  I have also introduced legislation to create an IG for the Federal 
judiciary to offer those employees the same rights offered to their 
coequal executive branch counterparts.
  After holding a full committee hearing on problems with rampant 
sexual harassment in the judiciary and raising awareness on a lack of 
an effective reporting mechanism, the Administrative Office of the U.S. 
Courts took a step in the right direction by creating the Judicial 
Integrity Office.
  I hope through the establishment of this office, the AO will 
recognize the importance of transparency and accountability.
  Another example of where oversight led to a legislative solution is 
the Public Safety Officers Benefit Program.
  Enacted in 1976, this program provides survivor benefits to the 
spouses and children of public safety officers who died in the line of 
  Despite the Department's own 1-year deadline to resolve all claims, 
we found that over half of all death benefit claims were pending past 
the 1-year mark. As a result, I introduced and passed bipartisan 
legislation aimed at creating more transparency and accountability in 
the administration of this program.
  Oversight of the Justice Department also uncovered gross 
mismanagement by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency 
Prevention, or OJJDP for short.
  That office provides millions of dollars in grants to States to 
assist them in addressing juvenile delinquency. Thanks to several 
whistleblowers, we discovered that OJJDP was issuing millions of 
dollars to noncompliant States.
  I introduced bipartisan legislation which would require the Justice 
Department to hold States more accountable for fulfilling these grant 
requirements. A few days ago, this bill unanimously passed both 
Chambers of Congress.
  Oversight is a critical tool Congress must use to help hold the 
Federal Government accountable to ``we the people''.
  It is the job of Congress, which represents the people, to ensure the 
government is operating above board, transparently, and as a good 
steward of taxpayer resources.
  Of course, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, over the last 4 
years I have focused extensively on the Justice Department proper and 
  Much of that focus has been on how the Department handled the Clinton 
investigation and the Russia investigation.
  With respect to the Clinton investigation, some of the most 
problematic material discovered thus far is classified. However, as 
many now know, the Department had personnel on the Clinton 
investigation that exhibited extreme political bias against then-
Candidate Trump.
  My inquiry also found that the Department and FBI oddly limited the 
scope of review to the time Secretary Clinton was Secretary of State, 
even though evidence of obstruction would have occurred after she left 
the State Department.
  Perhaps defying all sense of legal logic, the Department and FBI 
decided to write in the element of ``intent'' into 18 U.S.C. 793(f), 
which covers the mishandling of classified information.
  By the FBI's own admission, highly classified information transited 
Secretary Clinton's unclassified nongovernment server that she used for 
government business.
  If any one of us did that to classified information, we would have 
the book thrown at us.
  Also, the Department and FBI used immunity agreements at an alarming 
rate and then-Director Comey began writing an exoneration statement 
before interviewing Secretary Clinton and 16 other witnesses.
  That same exoneration statement labeled Secretary Clinton's actions 
as ``grossly negligent,'' a criminal standard, which was later changed 
to ``extremely careless,'' a noncriminal standard.
  All told, the Clinton investigation was mismanaged to the detriment 
of our country's faith in the FBI.
  Perhaps the most breathtaking hypocrisy we identified in the Clinton 
investigation is that Comey and other FBI officials were using private 
email to conduct government business while they investigated Secretary 
Clinton for doing the same.
  Congress has an obligation to shine a light on wrongdoing, and I 
certainly hope the Department and FBI have learned their lesson.
  If not, eventually, Congress will find out. And let me say this: Our 
patience is wearing thin.
  Aside from the Clinton investigation, in 2015 I began looking into 
the Foreign Agents Registration Act before it was made popular by 
Robert Mueller.
  FARA is a very important law. It requires agents of foreign 
governments or enterprises to register with the Justice Department so 
we know who they are and who they truly work for.
  Sunlight is the best disinfectant. We ought to know where someone's 
loyalty lies.
  I held a hearing in July 2017 about the law and potential fixes to 
it. As a result, I introduced the Disclosing Foreign Influence Act
  That bill does two important things: No. 1, it provides the Attorney 
General with civil investigative demand authority; and No. 2, it 
creates oversight checks and balances on the use of that authority.
  We must do whatever we can do identify foreign agents spreading 
propaganda and lobbying on behalf of foreign governments.
  During the course of my investigation into violations of FARA, I 
became aware of a group of unregistered foreign agents lobbying for the 
repeal of the Magnitsky Act. That law, passed by Congress in 2012, 
authorized sanctions against a group of Russians responsible for a 
particularly egregious case of human rights abuse.
  I discovered that those involved in the anti-Magnitsky lobbying 
effort were the same cast of characters who organized the now infamous 
Trump Tower meeting in 2016. This prompted a full-scale investigation 
into the meeting and the reasons behind it.
  On May 16 of this year, I am proud to say that the committee released 
approximately 2,500 pages of transcripts, written statements, and 
exhibits collected during the course of this investigation, as well as 
records produced by meeting attendees who were not interviewed. Taken 
in their entirety, these materials provided the public with the most 
complete picture of events surrounding that meeting to date.
  In the end, the evidence supported what we had suspected all along--
that the meeting was just another attempt by this group of unregistered 

[[Page S7984]]

agents trying to overturn a law that they didn't like.
  I also conducted oversight into the FBI's handling of its 
investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  As a result of our and other committees' investigative efforts, we 
now know that one of the documents used by the FBI to establish and 
broaden its early investigation of President Trump was an 
unsubstantiated political opposition research dossier, prepared by 
Christopher Steele for the opposition research firm Fusion GPS and paid 
for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee.
  As Senator Graham and I described in our criminal referral of 
Christopher Steele earlier this year, this dossier was used by the FBI 
to help justify a FISA warrant to surveil a Trump campaign volunteer.
  I am proud of the role that the committee has played in bringing 
additional details about these events into public view, both through 
the criminal referral of Steele and through the official release of the 
committee's interview of Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson, which took 
place last August.
  My oversight work on this committee has also been bipartisan. Ranking 
Member Feinstein and I shared equally in the questioning of witnesses 
involved in the Trump Tower meeting, and we worked together to release 
the results of the Committee's investigation in May of this year.
  Even though I am chairman of Judiciary, my oversight focus extended 
to health care related matters.
  Nonprofit hospitals have been a particular concern.
  One nonprofit chain, called Mosaic Life-Care, had been suing low-
income patients for debts that should have been covered by the 
hospital. Tax-exempt hospitals cannot be in the business of profiting 
off poor people.
  After a 16-month inquiry, Mosaic finally changed its ways and 
approved debt forgiveness for over 3,000 patients. That debt 
forgiveness was worth approximately $16.9 million.
  And when Iowans began contacting me about the rising cost of EpiPen, 
I began to investigate. In 2007, a pack of two EpiPens cost $100. By 
2016, the cost exploded to $600.
  In a nutshell, Mylan had classified the EpiPen as a generic under the 
Medicaid Drug Rebate Program rather than a brand name drug.
  Because of this incorrect classification, Mylan only had to pay a 13-
percent rebate instead of a 23.1-percent rebate.
  I asked the Health and Human Services inspector general to look into 
these practices.
  The inspector general found that the taxpayers may have overpaid for 
the EpiPen by as much as $1.27 billion over 10 years because of the 
incorrect classification.
  Eventually, Mylan settled a False Claims Act case with the Justice 
Department for $465 million. Upon learning of that settlement, I 
expressed my disappointment that it didn't seem the taxpayers had been 
made whole.
  On August 16, 2018, the FDA finally approved a generic EpiPen, which 
gives consumers more purchasing options.
  Simply stated, oversight works.
  I also investigated, with Senator Wyden, Gilead's pricing decisions 
for its hepatitis C drugs--Sovaldi and Harvoni. Our joint report was a 
ground-level view of how a drug is priced and what steps some drug 
companies will take to maximize profit possibly to the detriment of 
patients in need.
  Nursing home social media abuse has also been a focus of mine.
  New technologies offer new ways for bad conduct to occur. Steps ought 
to be taken to stop that.
  After extensive communication with CMS about these issues, the 
government issued a guideline that made clear that compromising photos 
and recordings of residents is a form of abuse.
  But, we didn't stop there.
  After reading reports about spending and management problems at the 
Wounded Warrior Project, I looked into that too.
  Reports had shown Wounded Warrior was not spending 80.6 percent of 
their programs expenses on veterans in fiscal year 2014. My 
investigation found that Wounded Warrior had been incorporating donated 
media and millions of dollars in fundraising to get to that 80.6 
percent. A more accurate figure is about 68 percent.
  Americans want the Wounded Warrior Project to be successful, and if 
its current leaders are listening to this, I want to reiterate my best 
wishes that it help as many veterans as possible.
  I have also taken a keen interest in the Red Cross over the years.
  Most recently, after reports of mismanaged spending after the 
earthquake in Haiti, I decided it was time to look under the hood.
  What I found was troubling, to say the least.
  My inquiry found that the Red Cross did not track costs on a project 
by project basis; instead, it used a complex and inaccurate process to 
track spending. The Red Cross was simply unable to provide the exact 
cost of each project and program in Haiti.
  Worst yet, my inquiry found that the head of the Red Cross attempted 
to terminate a review by the Government Accountability Office and lied 
about it. I will continue to keep my eye on the Red Cross.
  During my time as chairman of Judiciary, I have also conducted 
extensive oversight of our broken immigration system.
  For every major terror attack on American soil by a foreign national, 
I reviewed just how the perpetrators entered the country in the first 
place. What I found was that often these terrorists and other criminals 
would lie or conceal information on their visa applications to enter 
the country.
  They often knew which visas to exploit to commit their crimes, which 
ranged from espionage, to theft of trade secrets, to trafficking.
  The committee has also looked into how Homeland Security and State 
vet refugees, monitored the mass migration caravans, reviewed hundreds 
of pages of visa and immigration documents, and repeatedly raised 
concerns with the controversial EB-5 investor visa program.
  When Congress created the program, the goal was to spur growth for 
rural and underserved areas. Now, the EB-5 program has become an often 
illicit funding source for big-moneyed interests in some of the largest 
cities around the country. It is no surprise that the Fraud Detection 
and National Security Directorate also raised national security 
concerns about the program.
  Since 2016, I have written eight letters, held three hearings, and 
introduced legislation to remedy the glaring problems that plague this 
  I wait with anticipation on the EB-5 modernization and reform 
regulations the Department of Homeland Security promises to publish 
very soon.
  These are but a few examples of what I have tried to do right by the 
people of Iowa and the taxpaying public.
  Being chairman of the Judiciary Committee has been a rewarding 
experience, one that I will cherish as some of the most productive 
years of my career representing the great people and State of Iowa.
  I look forward to continuing my oversight work both as chairman of 
Finance and as a senior member of the Judiciary Committee in the next 
  After all, as experience has shown, oversight works, and I will 
continue to fight the good fight on behalf of ``We the people.''