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House Republicans are kicking off investigations into the Biden administration


House Republicans are ready to launch new oversight of the Biden administration with a set of hearings starting this week. The list of what they say they're concerned about starts with a look into spending tied to the pandemic, plus policy on immigration and the southern border. NPR congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales has more.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Republican Congressmen James Comer and Jim Jordan are spending a lot of time together these days.

JAMES COMER: We talk every day. We had breakfast together this morning. We work together. No problem there.

GRISALES: That's Comer on his way to House votes on a recent afternoon. The Kentucky congressman is chairman of the Oversight Committee, and Jordan chairs the House Judiciary panel.

COMER: He knows what we're doing. We know what he's doing. Our staffs are close. Our committee rooms are next door to each other. So we work together very well.

GRISALES: The House GOP hopes to cover a lot of ground starting this week with a series of hearings. The Judiciary Committee's first meeting will cover what Republicans dubbed, quote, "Biden's border crisis." It is part of the GOP's probe into concerns surrounding immigration and security at the U.S.-Mexico border. Meanwhile, Comer says the oversight panel's first hearing will focus on spending tied to the pandemic relief bills, which he claims did not get enough scrutiny when Democrats had control of the House chamber.

COMER: There have been reports of lots of waste, fraud and abuse with respect to the stimulus funds, PPP loan fund, unemployment funds and all of that. So we're just going to roll our sleeves up and get started there.

GRISALES: At the same time, the oversight panel is conducting a probe into the Biden family and their business dealings. But Republicans have not uncovered new evidence backing up claims of concerns. Democrats say the focus on Biden is more about politics. Republicans, who want a narrow House majority in the midterm elections, campaigned on pledges to investigate Democrats. And House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has repeatedly emphasized oversight into the Biden administration and various federal agencies.

KEVIN MCCARTHY: One thing that Congress has - we have a constitutional responsibility to oversee the Justice Department, and that also means these individuals investigating. We have the constitutional power to do that, and we will.

GRISALES: Republicans say there is plenty of plans in store for overseeing the Justice Department and the FBI. To help with that, they formed a new select judiciary subpanel on the, quote, "weaponization of the federal government." It's something hardline conservatives pushed for, and it will be tasked with investigating claims government workers have politically targeted Republicans. Jordan said they're prepared to issue subpoenas if needed.

JIM JORDAN: We'll issue the subpoenas and try to get the information - documents that we need. And if they keep - if they give us the runaround, they give us the runaround. That's - I guess I sort of expect that.

GRISALES: Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin, who is the House Oversight Committee's top Democrat, says there is room for the parties to work together. For example, given the recent discoveries of misplaced classified documents by former and current presidents, Raskin and Comer agree there could be legislative fixes to avoid such concerns in the future. But Raskin warns extremist claims should not overtake GOP probes.

JAMIE RASKIN: Oversight is not about scandal mongering and sticking it to the other guys. Public oversight is about making sure the government is working for the people.

GRISALES: That posture is part of a new, larger battle that will play out publicly, pitting House Republicans against Democrats in what's expected to be a long series of probes and hearings to come.

Claudia Grisales, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.