Policy Today magazine cover showing three soldiers on patrol
February 1, 2006

PT talks to U.S. Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, ranking member of the Committee on House Administration, about the process of congressional oversight.

PT: How much time do you spend doing oversight work in Congress?

Millender-McDonald: We meet once a week—sometimes twice a week—under the rubric of transportation, because we have subcommittees that meet under that banner.

Introducing legislation can take a short period of time or an extended period of time, depending on what we're trying to push through. In today's environment, you have to make sure that whatever you're trying to push through is bipartisan, and that can take a lot of time; sometimes it can take years.

PT: There's obviously a lot of partisanship involved in passing legislation, and as you point out, that can make the process much more difficult. Does this partisanship carry over into your oversight role as well?

Millender-McDonald: Absolutely. It can be difficult to reach consensus—unless it's something that's not confrontational of course—in those committees that deal with more challenging things.

PT: How effective is the process overall?

Millender-McDonald: There could be improvements to the process, that's for sure. Sometimes we get mired in the minutiae and we never get beyond that.

PT: Congresswoman, thank you for your time.

Juanita Millender McDonald represents Torrance and the 37th Congressional District. She is the first African American woman in history to hold the position of Ranking Member on the Committee on House Administration.