Interesting political maneuvering last week in the House Judiciary Committee over medical malpractice reform prior to the House debating H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act.
In late October, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the ranking Republican on the committee, introduced what's known as a "resolution of inquiry," a vehicle for seeking information from the executive branch, in this case the Department of Justice. H.Res.871 asked for...
copies of any document, record, memo, correspondence, or other communication--
(1) received from the American Association for Justice, formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, and any of its members, since January 20, 2009, that refers or relates to any recommendation regarding medical malpractice reform; or
(2) that references the American Association for Justice, formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, or any of its members, and refers or relates to any recommendation regarding medical malpractice reform, since January 20, 2009.
The resolution came before the committee's business meeting on November 4. Rather than prompt a lengthy discussion of the health care bill's lack of serious tort reform -- the primary reason for the resolution in the first place -- Chairman John Conyers let committee speedily vote it out with no recommendation, and the resolution was sent to Justice.
All that occurred on November 5. And on November 6, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich responded, reporting that "no such documents were found." (Copy of the DOJ letter here.)
Really? REALLY? Nobody from AAJ has written, e-mailed or otherwise communicated with the Department of Justice about medical malpractice reform? And the Department was able to determine the lack of correspondence in just a single day?
Astonishingly quick work. Curious result. It would be an interesting exercise for someone to submit a Freedom of Information Act request to DOJ seeking the same information.