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July 10, 2020

Homeland and Oversight Chairs Issue Statement on Coast Guard’s Refusal to Appear for Public Hearing

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, issued the following statement on U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz’s refusal to appear for a public hearing:

“At a time when people across this country are coming together to confront systemic racism, it is deeply disappointing that the Coast Guard’s Commandant, Admiral Karl Schultz, has rejected our invitation to testify publicly on race-based harassment at the Coast Guard Academy. 

“In his refusal, Admiral Schultz cites a baseless White House directive banning virtual testimony from Administration witnesses.  Under the Constitution, Congress—not the Executive Branch—determines how to hold Congressional proceedings.  Furthermore, other Administration officials, including Stephen Hahn, the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have testified before Congress virtually without incident.

“We are disturbed that a branch of the U.S. military would reject Congressional oversight and surprised that the Coast Guard would not welcome the opportunity to address concerns about the Academy, as well as highlight steps it is taking to implement the recommendations set forth in the Committees’ joint staff report.”

The Committees invited Admiral Schultz to testify at a joint hearing scheduled for July 16, 2020, to examine the Coast Guard’s handling of race-based allegations at the Coast Guard Academy, actions taken to address systemic racism in the service, and the response to the recommendations outlined in the Committee’s joint staff report.

This is the second time in eight months that the Commandant has refused to testify before the Committees.

Background on Joint Coast Guard Investigation:

  • Last month, the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General published a report detailing failures in the Coast Guard Academy’s handling of race-based harassment allegations.
  • Last December, the Committees on Oversight and Reform and Homeland Security releasedjoint staff report finding that the Coast Guard mishandled complaints of harassment and bullying and failed to hold those in leadership accountable for their actions.
  • The Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security held a joint subcommittee hearing in December to discuss the findings of the joint staff report. 
  • The Committees’ joint investigation into the Coast Guard was initiated two years ago by then-Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings and then-Ranking Member Thompson, in consultation with Representative Joe Courtney, to examine the handling of complaints of harassment and retaliation in the Coast Guard, including at the Coast Guard Academy, and the Academy’s responses to disparities identified in the Equity Scorecard review.

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Press Contact

Aryele Bradford (Oversight and Reform): 202-226-5181

Adam Comis (Homeland Security):  202-225-9978