Congressional Investigations

May 26, 2023 • Volume 33, Issue 18
Are they still effective despite partisan division?
By David Hawkings


The 18-month House Democratic-led inquiry into former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, culminating in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, is now being followed by investigations by House Republicans into myriad aspects of the Biden administration. Even when the legislative process has been gridlocked, congressional investigations often shed light on illegal activities of abuses of power and have fueled important policy reforms. But the relentless parallel criticisms of recent inquiries — each party accused of abusing its subpoena power as part of a crusade to destroy the other's leader — threaten to deeply stain the role of oversight. While some point to the work of the Jan. 6 committee as evidence such probes can still be bipartisan and effective, others argue that little substantial change occurs, with the public concluding such investigations are no more than evidence of Washington's partisan dysfunction.

Photo of federal officials swearing into hearing on Capitol Hill on April 19, 2023. (Getty Images/Alex Wong)
A group of federal officials swear in to testify on April 19 before a House Committee looking into the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. While congressional oversight is intended to identify waste and abuse in government, such inquiries are often used as weapons against opposing parties. (Getty Images/Alex Wong)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Political Parties
May 26, 2023  Congressional Investigations
Jan. 06, 2023  Dark Money
Mar. 25, 2022  The Democrats' Future
Apr. 30, 2021  The GOP's Future
Oct. 13, 2017  Future of the Democratic Party
Sep. 09, 2016  Populism and Party Politics
Nov. 14, 2014  Nonprofit Groups and Partisan Politics
Oct. 24, 2014  Future of the GOP
Feb. 28, 2014  Polarization in America
Mar. 19, 2010  Tea Party Movement Updated
Mar. 20, 2009  Future of the GOP
Jun. 08, 2007  Democrats in Congress
Apr. 30, 2004  The Partisan Divide
Dec. 22, 1995  Third-Party Prospects
Jan. 11, 1985  Post-1984 Political Landscape
Nov. 09, 1984  Democratic Revival in South America
Sep. 14, 1984  Election 1984
Dec. 19, 1980  Future of the Democratic Party
Sep. 29, 1978  New Right in American Politics
Jan. 04, 1974  Future of Conservatism
May 03, 1972  The New Populism
Feb. 02, 1956  Foreign Policy in Political Campaigns
Dec. 22, 1954  Divided Government
Aug. 04, 1952  Two-Party System
Jun. 06, 1952  Party Platforms
Sep. 05, 1951  Southern Democrats and the 1952 Election
Oct. 06, 1948  Voting in 1948
Aug. 27, 1948  Republicans and Foreign Policy
Jul. 16, 1947  Third Party Movements
Aug. 22, 1940  Political Realignments
Jan. 13, 1938  The G. O. P. and the Solid South
Jul. 22, 1936  Third Party Movements in American Politics
Jul. 07, 1936  The Monopoly Issue in Party Politics
Nov. 12, 1935  Party Platforms and the 1936 Campaign
May 18, 1934  Political Trends and New Party Movements
Jan. 13, 1932  National Party Platforms, 1832–1932
May 16, 1928  Third Party Movements
Jan. 21, 1928  Major Party Platforms 1924–1928
Nov. 14, 1924  The Election and the Third Party
Sep. 05, 1924  Party Claims and Past Political Complexion of the States
Jun. 25, 1924  Third Party Platforms
Jun. 18, 1924  Thrid Parties: Past and Prospective
Campaign Finance
Campaigns and Elections
Campaigns and Elections
Congress Actions
Conservatism and Liberalism
Deficit, Federal Debt, and Balanced Budget
Economic Crises
Federal Courts
Freedom of Information
Internet and Social Media
Journalism and the News
Judicial Appointments
Lobbying and Special Interests
Organization of Congress
Party Politics
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Protest Movements
Supreme Court History and Decisions