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Did Congress Have Authority for Baseball Steroid Hearings?

Valid use of Congress' time, or just a massive photo-op?

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Did the House Government Reform Committee have the authority to hold its much-reported hearings into steroid use in Major League Baseball, or was the testimony of several former and present MLB stars little more than a taxpayer-funded photo-op?

Just a Photo-op
When established 1927 as the Committee on Government Operations, the House Government Reform Committee (GRC) was given jurisdiction to investigate "the operations of Government activities at all levels with a view to determining their economy and efficiency."

According to it's published scope of power, the Committee on Government Reform differs from other congressional committees in that its jurisdiction has grown over the years. "While retaining the agenda of the former Committee on Government Operations, the Committee also has the responsibilities of the former Committee on Post Office and Civil Service and the Committee on the District of Columbia.

"The Committee serves as Congress’ chief investigative and oversight committee, and is granted broad jurisdiction because of the importance of effective, centralized oversight. Because it authorizes on a few agencies and programs, it is able to review government agencies and programs with an unbiased eye."

Despite it's claim of wide-ranging power, the congressionally mandated roll of the Government Reform Committee remains the investigation and reform of the operations of the government itself. The use of steroids by professional baseball players clearly does not fall under the scope of their authority.

On the Other Hand
The Government Reform Committee is charged as the "principal investigative committee of the House," which gives it the authority to conduct hearings on any subject falling under the jurisdiction of Congress. The Federally Controlled Substances Act, regulates the use of performance enhancing drugs, including steroids. In addition, Major League Baseball has been exempt from most federal anti-trust laws laws since 1922, when the Supreme Court ruled in its favor in Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore, Inc. v. National Baseball Clubs. The exemption prevents teams for suing if they are not granted the right to change locations at will. While its exemption from anti-trust laws has nothing to do with steroid use by players, it does place the affairs of Major League Baseball squarely under the jurisdiction of Congress.

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