WASHINGTON – Accusing the Bush administration of a failed policy in Iraq, all 23 Democrats on the House International Relations Committee on Wednesday demanded congressional hearings on what they said was waste and fraud in reconstruction efforts.
"No one has been held accountable," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. "More than $9 billion transferred to the CPA is missing," said Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., referring to the interim U.S. occupation institution, the Coalition Provisional Authority.
"We know nothing," said Diane Watson, D-Calif., at a hearing that several Democrats said was the first the committee held on Iraq this year. "We as decision-makers get nothing."
But panel Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill., said he had held nine hearings on Iraq, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., said "many committees including ours" had reviewed the Iraq situation.
Tempers flared as Democrats accused President Bush of failure and the GOP-controlled committee of shirking its responsibilities. Only a few Republicans attended the session.
"It's a quagmire, it's a mess," said Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn. "We should take our responsibilities seriously and hold Bush accountable."
There was no immediate decision on the Democrats' request, which was coupled with charges of "waste, fraud and abuse" in a letter to Hyde circulated by Rep. Tom Lantos of California, the committee's senior Democrat.