On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General William Barr, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress due to alleged malfeasance related to the administration of the 2020 Census. The 230-198 vote was largely along party lines, with 4 Democrats joining Republicans against the measure. Democrats state that Barr and Ross have failed to comply with subpoenas requesting documents pertaining to the “citizenship question”, while the department heads stand firm that these documents relate to pending litigation and therefore cannot be made public.
House Democrats supported the resolution from the House Oversight and Reform Committee, as they continue to use every procedural tactic at hand in order to undermine the Trump Administration’s goal of making sure that every citizen is counted, and that citizenship remains a key constitutional pillar of our Republic.
Jim Jordan, Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, echoed the importance of citizenship in the 2020 Census:
Democrats are engaged in yet another episode of political theater in an attempt to delegitimize the citizenship question. The Administration is complying with the Democrats’ investigation. Asking about citizenship is neither new nor controversial. Today’s vote shows that Democrats in Congress will stop at nothing to attack the President and his Administration. The Democrats’ misuse of their contempt authority today raises the question: why don’t they want to know how many American citizens are in this country?
In a joint statement, Attorney General Barr and Secretary Ross asserted that they have been cooperative at every step, and that the documents in question should not be made public.
The Departments have been consistent – as have the courts considering the reinstatement of the citizenship question on the 2020 Decennial Census – that the documents the Committee seeks are protected from disclosure by these time-honored privileges…In order to ensure the free-flow of advice and decision making and to avoid compromising the ongoing litigation, we have not waived those privileges.
The resolution- as passed Wednesday- refers the “contempt” to the U.S. Attorney’s office to bring about potential charges. This illustrates the resolution as a vanity project from Democrats, as the Justice Department is unlikely to bring forth charges against itself.
The proceedings were summarized by Rep. James Comer, stating “This contempt citation is a misuse of one of the most powerful tools available to this body. The idea that the Trump administration is stonewalling this investigation or engaged in a cover-up from the top is simply wrong. The bottom line is, the Department of Justice and Commerce are cooperating,”