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tv   [untitled]    May 15, 2012 3:00pm-3:30pm EDT

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>> translator: you are the first man to stand up for this -- the chinese one-child policy on behalf of 400 million chinese babies who are forcefully aborted and killed, and so we are -- we praise you and we thank you, appreciate you. >> we will stand with you until the very end. you will be set free. >> mr. chen, thank you so very much. we will continue -- this is the third hearing. the first one was last -- last november when we thought you had disappeared. this is the third hearing, and i can assure you as both the
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chairman of the china commission and the human rights committee of the house of representatives we will never cease in our advocacy for you, your family, your extended family, your friends and the very important human rights cause that you espoused, defending women from the crime of forced abortion and forced sterilization so thank you very much. [ speaking foreign language ]
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>> thank you. [ speaking foreign language ] [ speaking foreign language ] >> so i want to let you know that i have been praying for you, and your courage has inspired all of our women, and
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we -- i've been praying for you every day, and one day that this evil one-wild policy will be abolished soon. >> that's okay. >> thank you. >> mr. chen, thank you. [ speaking foreign language ] >> translator: i have a final word that i want to emphasize. those -- what had happened to my family and to my extended family members are just a total
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violation of the chinese law, including chinese relevant law about the family planning system, and so what they have done is just totally a violation of the chinese own law so they should be held accountable by the chinese own laws, so that's what i want to emphasize. thank you, yeah. >> thank you, so much, mr. chen. >> paul, is ann marie coming back? >> i think we're close to concluding this hearing, and i want to thank our very distinguished witnesses and ask them if perhaps they might have some final comments they would like to make. i do, and i say this with all
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due respect to the president of the united states. i am concerned when the united states government, when president obama was asked about chen guangcheng specifically and human rights. he said no comment on chen and that human rights, quote, it comes up. my hope is that we are in the process of a game-changing reappraisal of our depriorization of human rights in china and perhaps elsewhere in the world but absolutely in china where wittingly or unwittingly we have enabled this terrible crime of forced abortion and forced sterilization to occur while we've looked ascance and acted as if it wasn't happening. chen guangcheng reminds us in a very powerful way and the suffering that he's endured that he stands in solidarity with the women of china as do i, as do so many members of congress, as does this panel, so if you would
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like to make any concluding statements, because i think we've heard it all with chen's own voice just a moment ago. bob fu is out, so if anybody would like to make any final statement before we conclude the hearing. >> yeah. i would like to, you know, chairman smith, you know, you are such a hero, inspiration to all of us, too. there's no anyone else in this country has fault as to the victims like chen guangcheng for the past 30 years. thank you for your persistence. may god bless you and, you know, all the work that you are doing, and we do believe this year china's one-child policy and gendercide will come to an end. we encourage the american leaders, including president obama and secretary clinton and all the congressional leaders to join us, join the people and to
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bring about an end to this horrific, the largest crimes against humanity on earth and this year. thank you. >> i want to thank our distinguished witnesses. we will continue pursuing obviously chen's case until it is resolved successfully, and the focus that he has brought on the hideous one-child per couple policy will increase in terms of focus, scrutiny and god willing it will end. the hearing is adjourned.
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the state department says u.s. visas for chinese dissident chen cheng and his family are ready to travel to america once they get the green light. the visa processing was completed more than a week ago for chen, his wife and children to allow him to study in new york. china said it would step mr. chen's application for travel documents to leave the country. here's a portion of the state department briefing. >> more than ten days since the secretary left china without mr. chen. i expect that he's -- these conversations with the chinese government are continuing, but i would like to know, one, if you have any information about that but also, two, has it gotten to the point now where you're processing visa paperwork for him and his family.
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>> let me start by saying that all of the processing on the u.s. side has been completed. we are -- we are ready when he and his government are ready. we have been for more than a week now in terms of his visa to come pursue his studies. he is continuing to work with his government. our information is that those conversations, contacts and processing, it and we've been in regular contact with him two, three times a day every day. >> okay. and just when you say that all the processing is complete, that means for who, him and his wife? >> him, his wife and two children. >> so is the second he gets some kind of travel document from the chinese he -- he can get out? >> we -- we will be prepared to do what we need to do on the u.s. embassy side as soon as he is ready with the travel papers. >> okay. house foreign affairs human rights subcommittee chairman chris smith described mr. chen's status as de facto house arrest
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as he and his family are barred visitors or from leaving the hospital. book will be live this afternoon with brian doherty. the author of the book "ron paul's revolution." mr. doherty is the senior editor at "reason" magazine, and he examines the political career of ron paul who announced yesterday he's no longer campaign iing fo the presidency or will be participating in the primary. primaries are being held in nebraska today. mitt romney is 171 delegates short of securing the republican nomination. oregon has 25 delegates at stake. nebraska voters will register their preferences for a nominee and 392 delegates to the republican national convention will be determined at nebraska state convention on july 14th. nebraska voters will also select the republican candidate to face democrat bob kerrey in that state's u.s. senate race. the u.s. house begins debate
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tomorrow on u.s. defense programs and policy. it includes authorization to continue our military presence in afghanistan and requires a missile defense site on the east coast, continued development of the f-35 joined strike fighter and bans gay marriage in defense department facilities. you can see that debate tomorrow live on c-span. the house gavels in for legislative work at 2:00 eastern. saturdays this month, c-span radio is airing more from the nixon tapes, secretly recorded phone conversations from 1971 to 1973. this saturday at 6:00 p.m. eastern, hear conversations between mr. nixon and white house special counsel and key adviser chuck colson who pass the away last month as they talk about the democratic presidential nominee, george mcgovern. >> he doesn't have the stuff? >> you really think so. >> i think he realizes he's on the verge of an impending disaster from his side, and
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everything he has done has gone wrong. >> in washington, d.c. listen at 90.1 fm. nationwide we're on xm channel 119 and streaming at the federal government has ten inspector general vacancies, seven of which have been vacant for more than a year. the house oversight committee held this hearing last week on how the vacancies impact prevention of waste, fraud and abuse. committee chairman darrell issa says president obama has failed to nominate people for those positions. this portion of the hearing is an hour and 15 minutes. >> the hearing will come to order. before we begin, this is an unusual hearing. and i hope you'll all agree that this is a hearing in which we're not talking about any particular problem that's occurred in the recent or not recent past. we're talking about an ongoing
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question of the independence, the value of inspector generals and where this committee should go in strengthening the 12,000 men and women -- $2 billion budget that ultimately protects the taxpayers. so with that, i'm going to make a special request. recognizing that votes will interrupt this hearing and make it probably impossible for us to get through two panels. i'm going to make a request that we be able to consolidate under one panel. in order to do that, i'm going to ask unanimous consent here on the dias that all members agree not to get into areas that would create an inherent conflict between a transparency or sunlight individual, such as pogo, and the office of management and budget. do i hear any objections? hearing none, could we please consolidate this so we can get through one panel. if anyone objects to questioning
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as somehow creating a conflict, i will rule on it, but my intention is that i believe every one of the panel and everyone on both sides of the dias today, wants this hearing to accomplish the same fact-finding. so if the staff would get that done while we do the opening statement. the oversight committee exists to secure two fundamental principles. first, americans have a right to know the money washington takes from them is well spent. and second, americans deserve an efficient, effective government that works for them. our duty on the oversight and government reform committee is to protect these rights. our solemn responsibility is to hold government accountable to taxpayers because taxpayers have a right to know what they get from their government. we will work tirelessly in partnership with citizen watchdogs to deliver the facts to the american people and bring genuine reform to the federal bureaucracy.
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this is our mission. in 1978, the position of inspector general was established to promote efficiency and ensure that a threshold of accountability was integrated government-wide. i myself saw the inspector generals far before that when in the military where their role for generations was critical. commanders do the best they can, but commanders need watchdogs at all levels, independent watchdogs. the igs are america's front line of oversight in the executive branch. fiscal year 2009 alone, their audits and investigations identified over $43 billion in potential savings. having a robust group of
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permanent inspector generals at the federal agencies is the best way to protect taxpayers from waste, fraud and abuse. the obama administration has often proclaimed its commitment to transparency and accountability. that's why it's so troubling, and i remember that his predecessor had similar situations, and i want to note that, that the president has allowed vacancies at several ig offices to linger for months and in some cases years. even more disturbing is the administration's willingness to demonstrate a pattern of, at times, of hostility toward some members of the inspector general community. that is not to say that that has not happened with past administrations. one of the president's first actions on the ig front was to remove ig gerald waltman from his post at the corporation for national and community service. we on this side of the aisle objected to it and continue to feel that this was
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inappropriate. however, that is not the issue for today. the issue for today is, in fact, how do we find something regardless of who's in the white house that satisfies, first, the american people's right to know and right to be protected from waste? second, strengthens the relationship between this committee and our counterparts in the senate in being able to count on the inspector generals as our conduit into the executive branch. we can all have discussions about this administration, and we have had plenty and will have more. but i think when we look at exposing taxpayer loss and waste, we cannot look at any one administration. we have often on a bipartisan basis lauded the success of tracking the stimulus fund spending. doesn't mean we agree to the stimulus bill itself, but it means that, in fact, we saw inspector general given a new job as chairman of that and we saw his years of experience help
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him help us understand what we would do next to improve transparency in the federal government. today, four ig positions have been vacant more than 1,000 days. five ig vacancies are at cabinet departments. one of our points will in fact be to deal with such situations as usaid's vacancy at a time in which afghanistan and iraq are not yet settled questions and the variability of that entity to deliver its historic support rather than direct funding to indigenous nationals without aig or usaid direct oversight concerns us and would concern us even more if we cannot have an inspector general there. so, in closing, i think it's extremely important not to allow today's hearing in any way to reflect on the current executive branch individuals including president obama and vice
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president biden. in fact, we need to look beyond that. we need look to the question of do we need to change the law for future presidents that would ensure prompt filling of vacancies in the absence of presidential action? could cigi or other entities have the right to temporarily fill those? if there is a dismissal, and i must admit i was tardy here because i was dealing with a potential false dismissal of an inspector general today, the fact is if that occurs, what is our ability to ensure that the acting inspector general in that entity or agency is in fact independent and that that dismissal is reviewed or any other action reviewed in a way that prevents any loss of the independen independence, no matter what the allegation is. as we all know, it is clear that inspector generals wear two hats.
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one of them is for the agency or the cabinet position they work for. they may or may not be presidentially appointed. they may or may not be confirmed in the same way. that may be something that needs to be changed. but today we will primarily be dealing with and asking the question of how can we get greater independence and, for this committee, more consistent transparency with -- to this committee and to the public. with that i recognize the opening -- the ranking member for his opening statement. >> mr. chairman, just a point of clarification, just one point. the omb, i understand, has a policy of -- >> i recognize the omb has chosen not to be on this panel. we'll remove the name. it may very well mean that he'll be called back for a future hearing. >> that will be fine.
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first of all, it's not that they are unwilling, just that it's sets another precedent and they'll testify at any time. they are glad to come back. >> sure. no, you know, it was an asked for and i had hoped that they would view this as a time in which it would not be a problem. as you know, administration selectively decides at times that they will sit with non-administration and selectively decides they won't. ultimately we'll respect their decision. we'll get through the first panel. if there's time, based on some change, but i suspect strongly there won't be and we'll have to reschedule. >> thank you. i appreciate that. inspectors general are critical to ensuring that our government works effectively and efficiently on behalf of the american taxpayers. although our committee plays a prominent and often public role in conducting government oversight, we rely heavily on igs to conduct audits, inspections, investigations on a daily basis at federal agencies.
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our committee also plays a unique role in overseeing igs and ensuring that they have the tools to do their jobs. in 2007, one of the most respected members of our committee, jim cooper, introduced hr-928, the improving government accountability act, to enhance ig independence and efficiency. under the then-chairman henry waxman the committee approved this legislation by a voice vote. the house and senate then adopted it, and the bill was signed into law by president bush in 2008. in my opinion, this is how we should approach today's hearing. by working together in a bipartisan manner to ensure that oversight is rigorous and constructive. today we will discuss ig vacancies at federal agencies. right now seven ig positions are vacant that require presidential nominations and senate confirmations. although the president has nominated several candidates who are waiting -- awaiting senate confirmation, he has yet to nominate others.
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in addition, an existing vacancy at the special inspector general for afghanistan reconstruction requires a presidential nomination but not a senate confirmation. we all agree that we should have highly qualified, dedicated professionals in place at every ig office across the federal government. personally i am most concerned that the administration has not nominated anyone to serve the state department ig. the last senate-confirmed state department ig was howard krumgard, and he resigned after an investigation by this committee into his conflicts of interest and his failure to conduct sufficient oversight of agency operations. that position deserves to be filled as soon as possible. to be fair, the number of current vacancies is not necessarily unusual. in fact, in the fourth year of george w. bush's presidency, there were also seven vacancies for senate-confirmed igs, including at the state department, department of
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treasury, and the general services administration and the department of health and human services. and this does not include clark kent irvin's recess appointment to serve as ig of the department of homeland security, which was never confirmed by the senate. the fact that president bush had as many ig vacancies in 2004 as president obama does today does not mean we should ignore the current vacancies. similarly, we should not single out the current administration for purely partisan reasons. as part of our review today, we also acknowledge the role played by the senate in these vacancies. for example, president obama nominated michael horowitz to be the ig of the department of justice on july 29, 2011. until 2009, mr. horowitz had served as the presidentially appointed senate-confirmed commissioner on the united states sentencing commission, yet even though the senate had confirmed him previously, his
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nomination was held up for eight months. when the senate finally did vote, they confirmed his nomination by a voice vote. similarly brian miller, the current ig at gsa who will be testifying here today, had to wait nine months before the senate finally confirmed his nomination by president bush in 2005. the ig vetting process is very extensive and challenging. it becomes even more difficult to identify qualified candidates who are willing to serve when they are blocked by anonymous holes and under delays in -- undue delays in the senate. finally, i would be remiss if i did not recognize the hard work of those who serve in ig offices. this includes not only the thousands of staff who dedicate their professional careers to these tasks, but also those who serve as acting igs while others await senate confirmation. in fact, just yesterday, our committee heard testimony from the very capable acting ig at
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the department of homeland security. nobody should be under the misimpression that the lights are turned off at ig offices while they await a permanent ig. these officials and staff do a terrific job on behalf of the american people, and i commend them for their dedication and with that, mr. chairman, i'll yield back. >> thank you. all members will have seven days to submit opening statements for the record. as i recognize the panel, i would ask unanimous consent, because we're not sure whether we'll get to them, that the honorable daniel weurfel's opening statement be placed in the record as though he testified. without objection, so ordered. we now introduce the chair of the consul of inspector generals or cigi as we will tend to call it here. also a returning favorite, the honorable brian d. miller who is the inspector general of the united states general services administration. welcome back.
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and mr. jake wiens is the investigator for the project on government oversight, often called pogo. welcome back. pursuant to committee rules, i'd ask you to please rise and take the sworn oath and raise your right hands. do you solemnly swear or affirm the testimony you are about to give will be the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. let the record indicate all witnesses answered in the affirmative. please be seated. as i previously said, we're, unfortunately, today going to be on a very tight constraint because of votes. i will try to keep our folks to their five minutes. i'd ask you to try to stay to your five minutes, and i assure you we will stay as long as we can on a vote and if possible return as soon as possible. with that, we recognize miss fong for her opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman, ranking member cummings and members of the committee. it's a real privilege to be here today to represent the federal ig community which consists of 73 igs in the executive and


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