Throughout my time in the U.S. House of Representatives, I have been honored to serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee. It is the oldest standing legislative committee in the House with broad jurisdiction over domestic policy issues including health, energy, environment, telecommunications, and more.
Many of these issues have a direct impact on the lives of constituents in Virginia’s Ninth Congressional District. My position on Energy and Commerce allows me to advocate for our region’s priorities and needs.
For the new Congress, I have been named Republican Leader of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations by Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). I am grateful for this opportunity to serve in a leading role.
The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is charged with conducting oversight over areas within the committee’s jurisdiction. We investigate problems, ensure that the laws we pass are being carried out, and supervise agencies.
Although it is not tasked with writing legislation, the subcommittee carries out an essential legislative function. Its activities may lead to new laws, highlight problems with those already on the books, or prod the executive branch to better fulfill the responsibilities our laws assign them.
Throughout my time on the subcommittee, we have often acted in a bipartisan manner. Investigations such as those into the origins of the opioid crisis or into mismanagement in the federal bureaucracy impact constituents of Republican and Democrat districts.
As I work with subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO), I am confident we can maintain this outlook going forward. We certainly won’t always agree, but many of our priorities have little to do with party affiliation. In the past, we have worked together productively on issues including compounding pharmacies and opioids. Further, we both disapprove of government bureaucrats who do not follow the law.
Our first hearing of this Congress will be on the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. State health officials from across the country will testify on their efforts to distribute the vaccines and the challenges they face.
Since the Food and Drug Administration authorized two vaccines in December, states have been receiving doses. In keeping with our federalist system of government, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have issued guidance, but states ultimately decide how to administer their doses and who to prioritize in vaccinating.
They have performed with varying degrees of success. For example, West Virginia has led the country in administering its allocation of doses. As an unfortunate contrast, Virginia has long been near the bottom of the rankings.
It will be important to learn from these states to understand what has been done rightly or wrongly in the vaccination process so we can improve the rollout going forward.
Moving onward, I expect the subcommittee will continue its work on the opioid crisis. Earlier investigations conducted by the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations helped uncover how some small-town pharmacies, including a few in West Virginia not far from the Virginia border, ordered enormous quantities of pain pills without attracting adequate scrutiny from distributors or the Drug Enforcement Agency. As overdose deaths appear to have risen during the pandemic, examining this scourge should remain a priority.
Other issue areas, including cybersecurity and prescription drug costs, also hold out the promise of bipartisan cooperation.
One area I intend to pursue with rigor is oversight over the Biden Administration within our jurisdiction.
When I served on the subcommittee during the Obama Administration, I saw too often executive branch officials and agencies overstep their bounds or flout the will of Congress in pursuit of a wrongheaded and harmful agenda. Considering that President Biden has signaled the same approach on many issues and even filled his administration with many of the same people, I anticipate that the subcommittee will have plenty to do. This may not be as bipartisan as other topics, but it is no less essential.
I am honored to take on this leadership role on the Energy and Commerce Committee. It will be a meaningful platform to further advance the priorities of the Ninth District in the House of Representatives.
For questions, concerns, or comments, call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405, my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671, or via email at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.