Oversight chair wants to withhold salary from Interior Department staff if they don't comply with record-keeping: report
Rep. Elijah Cummings (MSNBC)

The chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee is suggesting salaries from staff who refuse to comply with record-keeping laws shouldn't be paid.

Politico reported Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) made the threat as a result of the Department of the Interior barring lawmakers from being able to question staff about whether the new secretary was complying with record-keeping laws. The letter from Cummings was sent to Cole Rojewski.

“Please be advised that any official at the Department who ‘prohibits or prevents’ or ‘attempts or threatens to prohibit or prevent’ any officer or employee of the Federal Government from speaking with the Committee could have his or her salary withheld pursuant to section 713 of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act,” Cummings said in a statement.

Cummings referred to a 2016 GAO report that outlined a department’s budget “appropriation was not available to pay the salary of a federal officer or employee who prevents another federal officer or employee from communicating directly with any member, committee, or subcommittee of Congress.”

Previous requests to talk to staffers were answered by the department it was "unnecessary at this time."

Secretary David Bernhardt took over the department after former Sec. Ryan Zinke resigned following years of questionable spending and ethics violations.

The department has also refused to give documents to the Oversight and Natural Resources Committees, Cummings' letter outlines.