Secret Service scandal sparks rare bipartisanship
WASHINGTON (AP) — The scandal that’s rocked the once-proud Secret Service and raised questions about the president’s safety has also produced rare bipartisan unity on Capitol Hill.
With a month more to go in bitterly contested congressional election campaigns, Democratic and Republican lawmakers who usually are at odds have been surprised to find themselves largely agreeing on a response to the agency’s recent extraordinary security breaches, including a knife-carrying intruder who made it all the way into the White House East Room.
There were bipartisan calls for Secret Service Director Julia Pierson’s resignation this week, and once it was announced Wednesday, bipartisan agreement on the need for a wide-ranging independent investigation. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., both joined in that call.
Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which hosted Pierson at a hearing where her tepid and inconsistent responses infuriated all sides, sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Friday outlining their recommendations for the investigation — an unusual moment of agreement on a panel notorious for its partisan sparring.
Republicans typically critical of President Barack Obama have been just as full-throated as Democrats in voicing concerns about his safety. And members of both parties are pledging vigorous efforts to ensure that Pierson’s resignation ushers in wholesale culture changes at the Secret Service, where morale has been battered. There are complaints of personnel shortages and the steady drip of embarrassing revelations has tarnished the agency’s once-sterling reputation.
“Whether it’s in public or privately, I can tell you that the bipartisan effort, and the importance of making sure that our president is protected, is truly refreshing,” said North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican on the oversight panel. “We will continue to hold hearings, continue to work together.” More…