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Republican lawmaker plans to target spending: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The incoming Republican chief of a congressional oversight panel wants to expand the scrutiny of government waste by giving subpoena power to federal watchdogs, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

Republican Representative Darrell Issa, who takes over as chairman of the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee in January, wants to focus on trimming the government's burgeoning deficit, the newspaper said.

The shift in direction meshes with an edict from incoming Republican House Speaker John Boehner, the Times said.

Boehner and Issa want other panel chairmen to become more aggressive in oversight of the Obama administration, in particular to weaken the new healthcare and financial regulatory overhaul laws passed by the Democratic Congress.

Republicans won control of the House in November 2 elections as voters punished Democrats for a sluggish economy, high unemployment and a record budget deficit.

Congressional oversight committees can tie administrations in knots with subpoenas demanding massive amounts of documents and summoning witnesses to appear for public grillings.

Issa, an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama, has sponsored a bill to give subpoena power to the inspector general's of government agencies.

He has repeatedly chided the panel's current Democratic chairman, Edolphus Towns, for not aggressively pursuing issues such as oversight of the Federal Reserve and the government-sponsored housing entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

A spokesman for Issa earlier this month told Reuters the committee will likely use its oversight powers to ensure the government "works better and more efficiently. We're not going to be embarking on issuing subpoenas left and right."

(Reporting by Kim Dixon and John Whitesides; Editing by Eric Beech)