Rep. Jim Bridenstine says he won't let the Obama administration keep him away from visiting camps for underage migrants who entered the U.S. illegally.
I plan to treat HHS restrictions on visits to UAC facilities just as the President treats laws passed by Congress, as “suggestions”. #tcot— Jim Bridenstine (@RepJBridenstine) July 10, 2014
The Oklahoma Republican was outraged when he was turned away July 1 from a holding facility at the Fort Sill Army post in his home state, and has since gone to war against guidelines issued by the Department of Health and Human Services aimed at keeping news media (and lawmakers) at a distance.
"What are they trying to hide?" Bridenstine asked in a July 2 Facebook post. "Do they not want the children to speak with Members of Congress? As a Navy pilot, I have been involved in operations countering illicit human trafficking. I would like to know to whom these children are being released."
About a week later, Bridenstine had harsh criticism for HHS again after the department agreed to allow reporters to tour the Fort Sill facility. An invitation for reporters came with a major caveat: no recording devices would be allowed into the facility, no questions would be asked, and no interactions would be allowed between the reporters and the children or workers inside the facility.
Fort Sill, Okla. (AP)Bridenstine urged reporters to ignore these and other HHS guidelines in a written statement. "The idea of no recording devices, no questions, and no interactions is not acceptable. This violates the First Amendment," he said of the restrictions on visiting reporters. "This is not transparent. HHS is trying to muzzle the media and hide the human tragedy that has resulted directly from the Administration's failure to enforce the law."