Press Release

U.S. Rep. Castor Decries Republican Abdication of Oversight, Demands a Hearing on Family Separation

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Washington, June 27, 2018 | comments
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) today called for an immediate oversight hearing on family reunification of thousands of children currently in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a result of the Trump “zero tolerance” family separation policy during the Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee markup. All Republicans on the subcommittee opposed a Democratic amendment for an oversight hearing with HHS officials and children’s health experts, and in doing so abdicated their vital oversight responsibilities. Strikingly, Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee have ignored numerous calls for HHS oversight hearings in the midst of the humanitarian crisis.
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U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) today called for an immediate oversight hearing on family reunification of thousands of children currently in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a result of the Trump “zero tolerance” family separation policy during the Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee markup.  All Republicans on the subcommittee opposed a Democratic amendment for an oversight hearing with HHS officials and children’s health experts, and in doing so abdicated their vital oversight responsibilities.  Strikingly, Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee have ignored numerous calls for HHS oversight hearings in the midst of the humanitarian crisis.

“What should have happened last week when this tragedy became apparent – the Congress should have acted.  They should have acted immediately,” said U.S. Rep. Castor at the markup, "and at very least this committee, which has oversight responsibility for HHS, should have called those agency officials to come and explain how they are going to reunify families.” U.S. Rep. Castor noted that because Congress has abdicated its role, “it has been left up to a Federal Judge to insist on reunification.”  And, she noted that the judge that ruled children must be reunified immediately found that the Trump Administration had no effective system or procedure in place for (1) tracking the children after they were separated from their parents, (2) enabling communication between the parents and their children after separation, and (3) reuniting the parents and children after the parents are returned.  U.S. Rep. Castor and her colleagues were dismayed that the Republican majority would not even agree to a hearing, much less insist on the reunification that doctors, the faith community and almost all Americans agree is necessary for the physical and mental health of separated children and her parents.

U.S. Rep. Castor, Vice Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, has taken the lead in trying to convince the Republicans in Congress to play their important role and insist on immediate reunification.  Last week, U.S. Rep. Castor and her fellow Democratic committee members called on Energy and Commerce Committee chair, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), to immediately hold a hearing to address the reunification of children forcibly separated from their parents by Trump’s cruel policy.  U.S. Rep. Castor and House Democratic women also sent a letter to HHS and DHS Secretaries Azar and Nielsen pressing them to reunify children and parents immediately, and joined her colleagues demanding HHS and DHS Inspectors General conduct an immediate investigation on how the agencies are keeping track of children separated from their parents and report on the reunification of parents with their children ASAP.  She is also an original cosponsor of the Keeping Families Together Act, which would permanently end the separation of children from their parents.  Importantly, the bill includes policies and procedures that would allow parents and children to locate each other and reunite if they have been separated.

You can watch U.S. Rep. Castor’s statement here.

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