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Former chairman appears at House Oversight contempt debate

The Hill logo The Hill 6/12/2019 Chris Mills Rodrigo
Darrell Issa wearing a suit and tie: Former chairman appears at House Oversight contempt debate © Greg Nash Former chairman appears at House Oversight contempt debate

Former House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) appeared Wednesday at a committee hearing on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt.

Issa, who retired from Congress this year, sat in the front row of the proceedings, offering a moment of levity to a sometimes contentious back-and-forth between Republicans and Democrats on the panel.

He laughed and joked along as lawmakers discussed his return to the chamber where he used to lead the panel, then called the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The committee's current chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), welcomed Issa back.

"We're very pleased to have our distinguished former chairman in the room," Cummings said to some cheers.

"Let me make it clear, when I became chairman I said 'Let's make sure the portraits go up,' it's out of respect," he continued. "Mr. Issa and I went toe-to-toe quite a bit, but when all the dust settled I have a lot of respect for him ... taught me a lot and I'm sure I taught him a lot of things too"

"We wish he hadn't taught you quite so well," Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the panels ranking member, joked.

Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) reportedly removed portraits of Issa and other past chairmen from the walls of the Oversight Committee hearing room when he assumed the committee leadership role in 2015.

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