Issa told POLITICO in an interview that he wants each of his seven subcommittees to hold “one or two hearings each week.”"
An analysis of investigations with the committee as the unit of analysis shows a similar trend: divided government is associate with more and longer investigations of the executive branch.
Is this a good thing? Not necessarily. As Matt and I conclude in a related article in progress:
"Our findings, however, do not suggest that a 'mended' Congress performing vigorous oversight is necessarily a positive development. Cartel committees in divided government pursue investigations aggressively and intensely, yes, but such activity may only serve to increase partisan rancor in Washington given such investigations are potentially driven by partisan purposes. More investigation need not imply better government. Indeed, given all the consternation expressed by some politicians and the public at large about pork barrel spending, our findings on investigation should give pause. Yes, Congress may be more willing to investigate the executive branch under divided government; however, it will not disturb the logrolling arrangements so important to the re-election prospects of individual members."
Which is why, of course, oversight was so lax when it concerned MMS.
The punch line: Divided government matters. It makes it harder to pass legislation, and increases the propensity of Congress to oversee the executive branch.