REP LIEU REINTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO STRENGTHEN CONGRESS’ INHERENT CONTEMPT POWER

April 29, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTONToday, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) reintroduced the Congressional Inherent Contempt Power Act to enable Congress to independently enforce subpoenas and other Congressional actions by directly levying penalties against those refusing to comply. The resolution, which is cosponsored by Representatives Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Val Demings (D-FL), David Cicilline (D-RI), Madeline Dean (D-PA) and Joe Neguse (D-CO), amends House rules to provide a clear and fair method to implement Congress’ inherent ability to hold individuals in contempt and levy penalties if they refuse to comply with subpoenas.

“Congress has an inherent ability to hold senior officials and private citizens in contempt if they do not comply with congressional subpoenas, and my bill restores and strengthens its ability to do so. Under both Republican and Democratic administrations, it is Congress’ constitutional responsibility to serve as an independent check on the Executive branch. In the last four years, we encountered an administration that repeatedly stonewalled Congress, refusing to testify, provide documents and even respond to letters – hindering Congress’ ability to conduct critical investigations on behalf of the American people. My bill will help to ensure that executive officials and private individuals are held accountable for refusing to comply with Congress.”

What the Congressional Inherent Contempt Power Act does:

  • Creates a process for dialogue and accommodation between a senior responsible official at an agency or with a private individual, in pursuit of requested documents or witnesses;
  • Allows agencies or persons to register objections, and allows Congress to hold public hearings to consider specific objections, where agency officials or persons can make their case;
  • Allows the President to register objections and assert executive privilege where appropriate, in writing and directly;
  • Allows the Committee to report a resolution of contempt, privileged under Rule XI of the House, to the full House for consideration;
  • Allows for the Chairman of the Committee to present the case for passage before the full House, with time allotted for questions from Members on the floor;
  • Allows for two floor votes — one on passage of the resolution of contempt, and another to impose a financial penalty.
  • Caps the total monetary penalties for noncompliance at not more than $100,000;
  • One time compliance period of 10 days before levying additional penalties 

READ THE FULL TEXT OF THE BILL

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