HOUSE JUDICIARY REPUBLICANS DOUBLE DOWN ON REFUSAL TO CONDUCT TRUMP OVERSIGHT; SILENCE DEM VOICES DURING MARKUP BEFORE DEMS WALK OUT
Today, House Judiciary Committee Republicans doubled down on their neglect of conducting oversight of the Trump Administration by sabotaging a markup of Representatives David Cicilline (RI-01) and Pramila Jayapal’s (WA-07) resolution of inquiry that requested the Trump Administration to release information pertaining to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Sessions’ involvement in that decision.
Early into the debate, Chairman Bob Goodlatte “called the previous question” – a procedural move that shut down debate in its entirety and denied Democrats an opportunity to discuss the bill further.
When the original version of the resolution was considered in July, Judiciary Republicans hijacked the markup using a similar tactic by replacing the content of the bill with Hillary Clinton conspiracies sourced from a pro-Trump forum hosted by Reddit.
House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) today released the following statement:
“Today, the Majority denied us one of the most fundamental rights—not only of the Minority, but of democracy itself—the right to debate. Just as we had begun our consideration of H. Res. 488, the Cicilline-Jayapal resolution of inquiry, the Majority took the draconian step of calling the previous question—blocking discussion of amendments we had planned to offer, and cutting off all further debate.
“This is not how our Committee has operated in the past. This is not how our Committee should operate ever. A resolution of inquiry is one of the few avenues available to the Minority to attempt to obtain information from this Administration. We have only turned to these resolutions out of necessity.
“Since President Trump took office, my colleagues and I have written to the Administration more than 20 times. To date, we have not received a single meaningful response. We have written to Chairman Goodlatte six times, asking for oversight hearings with Administration personnel. We have not received a response to these requests either. The Committee has not yet held a single substantive oversight hearing of the Trump Administration.
“The resolution before us today asked for information related to the firing of James Comey, the scope and application of the Attorney General’s recusal, and a meeting at Trump Tower between Russian officials and senior campaign personnel, among other pressing matters within our immediate jurisdiction. We require this information to do our jobs, plain and simple.
“Today was a sad day for our Committee and a sad day for democracy—but we will not surrender to these heavy-handed tactics. We have a responsibility to continue to ask questions and conduct oversight, whether or not the Majority will join us in that effort. In short, until the Trump Administration answers our questions, and until the Majority calls them here to do so, my colleagues and I will continue to do everything in our power to hold both the Administration and the Majority accountable.”
BACKGROUND: House Judiciary Committee Democrats have long been calling for House Judiciary Republicans to provide proper oversight of Trump and his Administration. Democrats have written to Chairman Goodlatte six times to request hearings and have also sent several letters to Speaker Paul Ryan, the Department of Justice and the White House requesting related information. These letters have gone unanswered and House Judiciary Republicans have so far blocked Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s (D-NY) resolution of inquiry, Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Ted Lieu’s (D-CA) resolution of inquiry, and the original Jayapal/Cicilline resolution, from reaching the House floor. Instead, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee continue to do Trump’s bidding. Committee Republican Rep. Ron Desantis (R-FL) has even introduced an amendment to end Robert Mueller’s investigation.
A resolution of inquiry is a legislative tool that has privileged parliamentary status, meaning it can be brought to the floor if the relevant committee hasn’t reported it within 14 legislative days, even if the Majority leadership has not scheduled it for a vote.