But in my 20 years as a House committee chairman, I never issued a subpoena without the support of the ranking Republican or a majority vote of the committee.
I was not alone in avoiding unilateral subpoenas. In the past 60 years, only three chairmen have embraced issuing subpoenas without obtaining bipartisan or committee support: Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.), Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). It is not a coincidence that these men led the most discredited, partisan and unfair congressional investigations in modern history.
Yet this year, six House committees are emulating the McCarthy-Burton-Issa model and giving their chairmen unilateral subpoena authority. This is an invitation to abuse that diminishes the prospect for responsible congressional oversight. Unfortunately, this ill-fated move has received virtually no attention.
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