The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted on Wednesday to hold both Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for their failure to hand over documents to the committee.
According to Reuters, Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings said the contempt vote came amid executive officials failing to comply with requests to turn over research documents to support an immigration question on the national census.
The Washington Examiner adds:
The Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Democrats, voted along party lines to hold Barr and Ross in contempt for refusing to turn over documents related to the decision-making that led to including a question of citizenship in the 2020 census.
The Oversight panel subpoenaed those documents in April after both the Justice and Commerce departments refused to turn them over.
Cummings said his committee was unable to adequately serve its legislative role of overseeing the executive branch without the requested documents.
“We’ve been blocked from fully determining the real reason the administration sought to add the citizenship question,” the chairman said. “That is because the Department of Justice and the Commerce Department have refused to turn over key documents requested by this committee.”
And, via the Washington Examiner:
Democrats on Tuesday voted to give similar authority to the Judiciary Committee to enforce subpoenas in court following a contempt vote by that panel.
Oversight panel Democrats want to know the motivation for including the citizenship question in the upcoming census which they believe was done at the urging of Trump and for political reasons.
One Republican, Congressman Justin Amash joined with Democrats on the committee vote:
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec responded to the vote in a statement, ABC News reports, saying: “The Committee’s attempt to define the Department of Justice’s good-faith cooperation as ‘contempt’ defies logic.”
“Today’s action by Chairman Cummings and his Committee undermines Congress’s credibility with the American people. The Department of Justice has tirelessly worked for months to accommodate the Committee’s requests for information, including producing over 17,000 pages of documents and making senior Department officials available for questioning,” she added.
Conversely, Cummings said the failure to turn over the documents is a part of a larger effort of Trump administration officials to resist congressional oversight.