GOP Wants to Keep Tabs on Michelle Obama

Published by Pamela Gentry on Friday, March 27, 2009 at 4:35 am.

By Pamela Gentry, Senior Political Analystmichelle-obama_ap090320011811

March 27, 2009 – Black lawmakers are skeptical of GOP efforts to draft legislation that could force Michelle Obama and future first ladies to do more of their policy work publicly and with congressional oversight.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has proposed an amendment that would create a  policy requiring Mrs. Obama to disclose any government policy group she were to meet with – and to provide public and media access.

It would also require the First Lady and any that follow to announce in advance any meeting or gatherings when governmental policy would be discussed.

Issa contends this is all about recording history. 

“We are trying actually to protect the historic role of the first lady,” Issa said, adding that this would repeatedly invoke the “transparency” mantra of the Obama administration.

But Rep. William Clay (D-Mo.) disagrees.  “President Obama might see the legislation as a personal provocation that could trigger a fight. Let me… caution my friend from California that, as you’re probably aware, this president is very guarded about his family,” Clay said.

Clay isn’t alone in his calling for caution.  Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings  (D) said, “What is protection to one person may be just the opposite to another.”

Clay agrees, “I think that, no matter what you’re intending with this amendment, that the president may view this as an attack on his wife.”

If Issa is successful in getting his amendment passed, it would overturn a 1993 decision, which ruled that First Lady Hillary Clinton could be considered the equivalent of a federal employee.  In other words, Clinton’s involvement in the presidential Health Care Task Force did require that she report every meeting with outside advisory panels and that she release notes from the meetings.

Issa isn’t giving up. “We should have a set of rules that future presidents, vice presidents, first ladies and spouses of vice presidents, understand what their do’s and don’ts are. Can they have an open meeting? Can they have a closed meeting?” Issa asked. 

I guess that will be another question that may be answered in the courts. Do you think the actions of the First Lady should be monitored by Congress?

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