The top Democrat on a House investigative panel says the panel’s Republican chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, inaccurately denigrated Obama administration officials when he claimed the federal Obamacare website could only handle about 1,100 users at once.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat and ranking member on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said Mr. Issa put out press statements that refer to testing on a small sample size of expected users, even though Henry Chao — an information officer for the agency implementing Obamacare — told committee staff on Nov. 1 that the site’s capacity was around 48,000 to 58,000 users.
Mr. Cummings took exception to Mr. Issa’s comments on Fox News, in which he said White House spokesman Jay Carney and chief information officer Todd Park misrepresented the facts about HealthCare.gov’s capacity.
“This is not the first time you have accused a White House official of being a ‘paid liar,’ a practice that several of your Republican colleagues have condemned,” Mr. Cummings said in a letter to Mr. Issa. “Given that your staff participated in Mr. Chao’s transcribed interview last week — before you issued your press release and conducted your television interview — it is unclear why you did not disclose the information Mr. Chao provided, but instead chose to accuse Mr. Park and Mr. Carney of misleading the American people.”
Mr. Issa’s office stood by its earlier claims, saying on Friday the administration’s stress tests showed that 1,100 users marked a breaking point for the system.
“While Ranking Member Cummings holds out Mr. Chao’s testimony that the system was ‘designed to handle 50,000 concurrent users,’ he omits Chao’s reply when asked how many it could actually handle on October 1,” a committee spokeswoman said.
According to Mr. Issa’s office, Mr. Chao said: “Maybe 8,000? Somewhere under 10,000. I don’t have the exact metrics, but I know that it wasn’t 30,000 registrations per hour.”
In response, the Oversight Democrats said Mr. Issa was trying “to confuse matters even more” by using Mr. Chao’s response to questions about a different component — the registration process — and not the online application function.