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National Govt & Politics
House okays court action to enforce subpoenas against Trump officials
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House okays court action to enforce subpoenas against Trump officials

House okays court action to enforce subpoenas against Trump officials

House okays court action to enforce subpoenas against Trump officials

In a vote along party lines, the U.S. House on Tuesday approved a resolution from Democrats to more swiftly authorize court action against Trump Administration officials who have refused to comply with subpoenas from various committees in Congress, as Democrats accused the White House of a broad effort to stonewall legitimate investigations by the Legislative Branch into the Russia investigation and other matters.

"President Trump himself has said, 'we are fighting all subpoenas,'" said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who joined Democrats on the House floor in saying the Executive Branch cannot ignore oversight by the Congress.

"His administration has employed every tool it can to obstruct legitimate committee oversight," the Speaker added, as this measure specifically noted subpoenas for the Attorney General, and a former White House Counsel.

The vote on the resolution was 229-191.

"This Administration has repeatedly behaved in a lawless manner, as thought they should not be accountable to anyone," said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA).

“Today’s vote should send a very clear message to the entire administration that Congress will not tolerate anyone’s refusal to cooperate with our efforts to hold this administration accountable to the people it is supposed to be serving,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO).

In debate on the House floor, Democrats rattled off a number of investigations where they say subpoenas have simply been ignored by the Trump Administration; among the examples:

+ Subpoenas for documents related to the Mueller probe

+ A subpoena for testimony by former White House Counsel Don McGahn

+ A request to the IRS for the President's tax returns

+ Subpoenas about the 2020 Census form

+ Documents concerning security clearances issued by the White House

Republicans said it was all political theater, and a power grab by Democrats in the House.

"Using untested tactics like this could set dangerous precedent that harms us all," said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK).

The vote came a day before the House Oversight Committee was expected to vote on a resolution to find Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress, for refusing to turn over information related to the investigation of Trump Administration efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census form.

"The Trump Administration defied all three subpoenas," Democrats on the panel wrote in a report for Wednesday's proceedings, as they accused the White House of trying to 'stymie' the committee's investigation by slowing the availability of witnesses.

"The Department of Commerce and the Department of Justice have obstructed the committee's investigation," the report declares.

Democrats made clear they were ready to go to court to enforce their subpoenas.

The House vote came a day after the Justice Department had agreed to turn over some of the underlying investigative materials from the Mueller Report, dealing with questions surrounding obstruction of justice by the President.

Read More

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

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Washington Insider

  • With rules that make it difficult for lawmakers to steer taxpayer dollars into home state projects - that doesn't mean less money is being spent for such items - as instead billions of dollars in grants are being handed out by the Executive Branch each year, with federal bureaucrats taking the place of lawmakers in deciding how to dole out money approved by Congress for a variety of programs. A decade ago for example, Congress would have approved a highway bill filled with pages and pages of specific projects to be funded back in their states - but now, Congress funds billions in generic grants for the Department of Transportation, and then watches as the money is handed out by the feds. Experts say voters probably don't understand that what some would deride as 'pork barrel spending' just been shifted from the Legislative Branch to the Executive Branch. 'Presidents — and their appointees — engage in pork-barrel politicking (earmarking) in the same way Congress does,' wrote John Hudak of the Brookings Institute, who argues that budget 'earmarks' should be brought back in the House and Senate. Here are some examples of money sent out for highway and transit projects by the feds: Some lawmakers say they should be the ones deciding where that money goes - not a bureaucrat who maybe has never been to their state. 'We all should be able to stand behind the work that we do and advertise to our constituents and everybody around the country as to why this is a priority,' said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). 'If people think we are quote saving money,' Murkowski told reporters, 'they are fooling themselves, because those dollars are still going out the door.' But there are also Republicans who think Congress should just stay away from pork barrel spending. 'Earmarks grease the skids for bigger government,' said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE). But regardless of complaints about how big the federal deficit might be, and how much is being spent overall, lawmakers of both parties trumpet the arrival of money for the folks back home - with federal agencies joining in those announcements as well. There are so many grants offered by the U.S. Government that a special website was set up to help people find out more information about what's available. Going through many of the grants, what one notices right away is the wide swath of money available for all sorts of matters: + Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) USA Cooperative Agreement Program + Invasive and Noxious Plant Management  + Forest and Woodlands Resource Management + Cultural Landscape Inventory for the Navajo Settlement  + Longitudinal Research on Delinquency and Crime  One grant available right now from the National Institutes of Health deals with research into dementia, 'to conduct new research on automobile technology for signaling early signs of cognitive impairment in older drivers.' In recent weeks, President Trump has made it clear that he's ready to use support for specific home-state spending matters to his electoral advantage, too. The focus on local spending is not new - almost ten years ago, I wrote about the proliferation of grants, and how the executive branch was handing out the pork. And it's still happening today.