Republican senator slams 'unserious' efforts by Congress to hold Biden, COVID authorities accountable

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., lambasted Congress on Tuesday for “out of control” federal spending and “unserious” efforts to hold the government accountable.

Johnson, the ranking member on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, spoke at the Heritage Foundation’s Weaponization of U.S. Government Symposium in the morning, where he discussed his investigations into the COVID-19 pandemic response and great difficulty conducting oversight of the Biden administration. 

The problem with Congress, Johnson said, is that members have voted to grow the government without conducting proper oversight of waste, fraud and abuse. He said federal spending is on track to be $6.9 trillion this year while the budget for his investigative committee was cut.

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Ron Johnson

Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, speaks during a Senate Budget Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on March 12, 2024. (Graeme Sloan/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“I got my funding cut when I became ranking member, OK. Do you know how many staff members we have to do oversight over millions of government employees? We’ve got five. That’s how unserious Congress is about oversight,” Johnson said.

The Wisconsin Republican has led the charge in the Senate to investigate the origins of COVID-19. He has also accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of coordinating with social media companies to censor COVID vaccine skeptics – although critics have accused Johnson of peddling anti-vaccine misinformation. Johnson is also a leading Senate Republican probing corruption allegations surrounding President Biden’s involvement with his son, Hunter Biden’s, business dealings.

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Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson, FBI logo in the middle

Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, left, and Ron Johnson have led GOP inquiries into the Department of Justice’s handling of the Hunter Biden investigation. (AP/Getty Images/File)

But on Tuesday, Johnson warned that the federal government has grown “out of control” to the point where Congress cannot perform oversight and accountability.

“Administrations, both Republican, Democrat, give us the middle finger,” Johnson said. “They don’t respond. Yeah, so they are completely unaccountable to the American public through your elected representatives. And that’s been going on for decades. So, they are completely immune from oversight investigation.” 

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Republican Senator Ron Johnson

Sen. Ron Johnson warned Tuesday that the federal government has grown so large that oversight is nearly impossible. (Getty Images)

Republicans involved with the Hunter Biden investigation have said the White House is stonewalling investigators by withholding evidence and preventing Justice Department witnesses from testifying. Hard-line conservatives have advocated for Congress to use the power of the purse to leverage the Biden administration into cooperation by withholding agency funding; but most lawmakers are opposed to that strategy, which would likely result in a partial government shutdown.

Johnson said his colleagues are “not really contemplating all this government they’re voting for, all this spending.”

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“Again, to me, the problem is a massive federal government that has gone so far outside the constraints of the Constitution. Government is doing things that our Founding Fathers never contemplated,” Johnson said.

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