March 19, 2007

Power Shift Puts Bush Team on Defense

For six years, President Bush weathered controversies over warrantless wiretaps, abuse at Abu Ghraib prison and the government's bungled response to Hurricane Katrina with the help of a Republican Congress that wasn't eager to probe too deeply.

But less than three months into a Congress controlled by Democrats, top administration officials are being subpoenaed to testify, grilled before multiple committees or fired to contain the damage from recent scandals. Even Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is fighting to save his job.

To Democrats, it's a sign that checks and balances have returned after six years of one-party rule in the nation's capital.

"We have decided to turn the Congress from an accountability-free zone into a place where we hold the executive branch, the Congress and the federal government accountable," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat who's leading the party's re-election efforts.

The shift in power has made it impossible for the White House to control a series of scandals in recent weeks, from the mistreatment of injured soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to the controversial firings of eight federal prosecutors.

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