Elijah Cummings is trying to kill two birds with one stone

Barr, Cummings, Ross

Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), and his House Oversight and Reform Committee, will vote on Wednesday on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for failing to comply with congressional subpoenas.

Cummings said last week that he would schedule the contempt votes after both of the officials’ agencies did not hand over subpoenaed documents relating to the Trump administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

“Both Secretary Ross and Attorney General Barr are refusing to comply with duly authorized subpoenas from Congress. Because they are in contempt of Congress, on Wednesday, the Committee will vote to move forward to enforce our bipartisan subpoenas,” Cummings said in a statement Monday.

“I continue to hope that they will change course and begin producing the information we need to do our job under the Constitution,” he added.

The resolution on contempt stems from Cummings’s committee’s investigation on the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Those who oppose the question argue that asking about citizenship will lead to an inaccurate population count and skewed census data, which is used for the allocation of federal funds and drawing congressional districts.

The Trump administration believes that the question is needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Cummings on Monday also released the text of the proposed contempt resolution.

It cites Ross for not turning over documents requested through a congressional subpoena. It also penalizes Barr for not providing documents and for instructing a top official in the Department of Justice’s Civil Division to defy a congressional subpoena for his testimony on the citizenship question.

The committee vote will happen one day after the House votes on a resolution targeting Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn for not complying with congressional subpoenas relating to the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

Cummings could go to court over any contempt action against Barr and Ross without seeking permission from the full House and without forcing lawmakers to take a stance on the resolution. 

In a statement, Ross said that it “is sad for the country that the committee continues to roll in this reckless direction.”

“I never refused to meet with the Chairman.  I did urge him to first provide the information we requested numerous times, and that is why the Committee specifically needs privileged information that the Chairman himself and the litigation process have recognized as confidential. He declined, because the Committee isn’t interested in cooperation – it wants to improperly influence the Supreme Court’s impending decision with media broadsides,” Ross said.

The Supreme Court is currently looking into whether the citizenship question should be allowed on the decennial census after three federal judges blocked it from being added. The justices are expected to release their decision by the end of the month, with the court’s conservative majority signaling that they’ll rule in favor of the question.

Credit: The Hill