WASHINGTON – Congress has refused to halt spending on a decade-old investigation of former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros (search) despite Democratic senators' attempt to stop it.
A Senate provision that would have ended spending on the probe next month was killed during closed-door negotiations on a broader bill paying for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.
The bill for the Cisneros investigation had reached nearly $21 million at the end of the September.
"Even waste has a constituency," said Dorgan, who sponsored the measure to end the spending.
Independent Counsel David Barrett was not immediately available for comment Monday. Cisneros' office referred calls to his attorney, Barry Simon, and that office said Simon would not comment.
Cisneros admitted in 1999 that, when being considered for a Cabinet job, he lied to the FBI (search) about how much he paid a former mistress. Cisneros, housing secretary from 1993-96, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was fined $10,000.
President Clinton pardoned him in January 2001.
Dorgan said Barrett has submitted a report to a three-judge judicial panel. The senator said Barrett had told his office the probe would continue another 10 months but could not guarantee it would end then.
In an editorial last month, The Wall Street Journal criticized Dorgan's efforts, saying he was trying to squelch the probe because it had shifted from Cisneros to an investigation of an allegation of a cover-up by the Clinton administration that involved the Internal Revenue Service (search).
Dorgan denied that in a letter to the newspaper also signed by Sens. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who co-sponsored the measure on halting spending. The senators said the judicial panel, not Congress, would decide whether Barrett's report would be made public. They said because the probe was "substantially complete," by law the rest of the investigation should be turned over to the Justice Department.