REP LIEU AND MEMBERS CALL FOR HOUSE VOTE ON INHERENT CONTEMPT RESOLUTION

August 31, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON - Today, Representatives Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County), David Cicilline (D-RI), Val Demings (D-FL), Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Joe Neguse (D-CO) issued the following statements calling for the House to pass the Congressional Inherent Contempt Resolution, which would enable the House to independently enforce subpoenas and other Congressional actions by directly levying penalties against those refusing to comply. The Members renewed their calls for creating a mechanism for the House to use its internal inherent contempt powers in light of an appeals court panel argued that the House has to pass a law allowing the enforcement of subpoenas before the court can compel compliance.

“The appeals court panel's decision is stunningly wrong," Rep. Lieu said. "At the same time, this protracted legal battle over subpoena enforcement tells us that the House needs to create procedures to enforce subpoenas itself. The Supreme Court already has said that Congress has that power through inherent contempt. It's well past time to use it. The House needs to pass our inherent contempt resolution, which enables the House to levy penalties directly against those refusing to comply with Congressional subpoenas. This can be done without needing the approval of either the Senate or the Executive Branch."

“Congress must do more to enforce our lawfully-issued subpoenas," Rep. Cicilline said. "The inherent contempt power was used for decades to ensure no individual could hold themselves above the law. Given this President’s clear disdain for Congress’s ability to conduct oversight on behalf of the American people, it is time to reinvigorate this power to hold him and any future administrations accountable."

“President Trump and his enablers have revealed just how fragile our republic is," Rep. Demings said. "America has had its challenges, but our democratic system has survived for nearly 250 years because honorable men and women knew that their job was to serve the people. The President has demonstrated that he has no regard for the equal branches of government and will jeopardize everything we care about for his own personal interest. We need every tool possible to hold lawless people accountable. We must pass Rep. Lieu’s Congressional Inherent Contempt Resolution as soon as possible.”

“The Supreme Court has always emphasized that the two chambers of Congress have the same power to enforce their orders against defiant witnesses as courts have to enforce theirs,” Rep. Raskin said. “We need to restore and reinvigorate our inherent powers of legislative contempt to address the incorrigible lawlessness of the Trump administration.”

“The Court’s ruling is deeply flawed, and must be appealed," Rep. Neguse said. "However, the decision also underscores the necessity for Congress to adopt rules for the use of inherent contempt. As the Court correctly noted, there is ample case law demonstrating that Congress has historically relied on its inherent contempt power. It is time we start using it.” 

 

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