Posted by 18 July 2019
The House of Representatives is in an ongoing dispute with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Attorney General William Barr over documents related to the 2020 census. Yesterday, the House voted to hold both of these cabinet officials in criminal contempt.
By a vote of 230-198, the House approved House Resolution 497, “Recommending that the House of Representatives find William P. Barr, Attorney General of the United States, and Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., Secretary of Commerce, in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with subpoenas duly issued by the Committee on Oversight and Reform.”
The issue in question is the attempt by the Trump Administration to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has subpoenaed documents from both the Commerce Department and Justice Department about how and why such a question was added. President Trump has exerted executive privilege over some of this information, so the two cabinet secretaries have not fully complied with the subpoena.
Both secretaries argue that they are complying to the fullest extent possible with the subpoenas. However, House Democratic leadership is not satisfied and pushed for a criminal contempt vote. Only four Democrats voted “no,” while no Republicans supported the measure. Rep. Justin Amash, who recently left the Republican Party to become an independent, voted “yes.”
This action sends the contempt finding to the Justice Department for prosecution. It is unlikely if the Attorney General will pursue such criminal contempt charges against himself and Secretary Ross.
Do you think that the House was right to hold Attorney General Barr and Secretary Ross in contempt for not complying fully with subpoenas regarding the 2020 census?