The House Judiciary Committee today approved by a vote of 26-0  the Congressional Subpoena Compliance and Enforcement Act of 2017 (H.R. 4010). This legislation requires recipients of congressional subpoenas to either comply with such information requests or provide a valid, specific legal reason for not complying. The bill also requires expedited review by the courts when a dispute arises regarding whether a reason for non-compliance is valid. This legislation will strengthen congress’ ability to root out fraud, waste, and abuse on behalf of all Americans.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chief sponsor of the legislation, have issued the following statements:

Chairman Goodlatte: “This bill is a necessary step to restore Congress’s legislative power under Article I of the Constitution. In order to perform its investigative function and hold the federal government accountable, Congress needs federal agencies and others to comply with subpoena requests. Despite affirmation from the courts that Congress has the authority to issue and enforce subpoenas, in practice it has been very difficult to hold individuals and agencies accountable when they refuse to turn over needed information. I commend Representative Issa for his strong work to reinforce Congress’s constitutionally mandated authority.”

Subcommittee Chairman Issa: “Congress has a duty to hold government accountable because they have a right to know what they get from their government and because they deserve an efficient, effective government that works for them. During my time as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, I saw first-hand how the Executive Branch would do everything in its power to avoid complying with Congressional requests for the documents and information that the committee was entitled to. This bill is a long-overdue update that will give Congress better tools to conduct our Constitutional responsibilities as the chief watchdog for the American people.”

Background: The Congressional Subpoena Compliance and Enforcement Act of 2017 creates a statutory framework for compliance with and enforcement of congressional subpoenas.  The statute requires that recipients comply with congressional subpoenas, establishes procedures for asserting legal privilege, and provides for expedited court review in any case involving the enforcement of a congressional subpoena.