tv U.S. House of Representatives Barr Ross Contempt Debate CSPAN July 17, 2019 9:30pm-10:50pm EDT
announcer: if you want more information, order the directory at c-span.org. debate fromow that earlier today about holding william barr and wilbur ross in contempt of congress. the resolution was in response to the two officials failing to comply with this bein subpoenas. this is just one hour. i support this ipartisan resolution to hold attorney general william barr and commerce secretary wilbur ross in contempt of congress because it is necessary to preserve the integrity of this body and of the census. the constitution mandates that we conduct a census every 10
years. and that the census count every erson, a full, fair, and accurate account is critical to ensuring that we properly allocate federal funding and congressional apportionment. i do not take this decision lightly. holding any secretary in criminal contempt of congress is serious and sober matter. one that i have done everything in my power to avoid. but in the case of the attorney general and the secretary, secretary ross, they blatantly obstructed our ability to do congressional oversight into the real reason secretary ross was trying for the first time in 70
a rs, in 70 years to add citizenship question to the 2020 census. secretary ross testified under oath that he added a citizenship estion, and i quote, solely, wants to concentrate on that word, solely to help the justice department enforce the voting rights act. we now know that claim was nothing but a pretext. do not take my word for that, madam speaker. the supreme court said that. our committee's investigation uncovered evidence that secretary ross launched a secret campaign to add the citizenship question within days of assuming his post.
we learned that secretary ross ignored warnings from experts inside and outside the census bureau. including the bureau's chief scientist that adding a citizenship question would be costly and harm the accuracy of the census. in other words, they were saying if you do this, you're not going to have an accurate census. our investigation also revealed that secretary ross spoke with attorney general sessions, steve nnon, and chris, contrary to his testimony to the congress, the commerce department conjured up the voting rights rationale to hide these interactions.
this entire congress should be insulted by this. committee democrats first asked for documents from the department of commerce and department of justice when we were in the minority in april and may of 2018. both departments ignored us. when i became chairman i renewed these requests on behalf of the committee. since then the administration has engaged in a purposeful effort to obstruct, and i do not use that word lightly, our investigation. the departments have refused to provide key unredacted documents that we need to understand the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about why they really made this decision.
instead, what did they do? they produced thousands of pages that were largely nonresponsive. eavily redacted. or publicly already available. when they let us interview witnesses, what did they do? they ordered the witnesses not to answer more than 500 of our questions. secretary ross even refused my request to meet to try and work this out. like i said, i do not come to this floor lightly. this is not an easy decision, but there comes to a time when the congress must speak up for the congress. i grant myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. cummings: as a result, on april 2, more than three months ago, after a bipartisan vote, the committee subpoenaed these
key documents, including a secret memo that the department of commerce wrote about the citizenship question and gave to the department of justice. the departments have admitted to us that this memo does exist , but they refuse to produce this document and many others. now, i must say in all credit -- give credit where credit is due. my good friend and colleague on the other side, mr. meadows, worked tirelessly to try to help us get the things that we needed, and i appreciate that. trying to work in a bipartisan way. going on from there, last month, in light of this obstruction, the oversight committee passed a resolution to hold attorney general barr and secretary ross in contempt of congress.
the vote was also bipartisan. however, many of our republican colleagues apparently support the president's dministration's refusal to comply with duly authorized congressional subpoenas. now, let me say to my colleagues, we need to be clear at we as a body have a constitutional duty to be a check on the executive branch. that's our job. every two years we swear to uphold the constitution of the united states of america. that's our -- that is what we are supposed to do. so my colleagues claim we were interfering with the supreme court's decision on this issue. that argument never did make any sense to me. since we launched our
investigation in 2018, more than 10 months before the supreme court took up the case, but even if you accept that misguided argument, the supreme . urt case is now over that argument is gone. the president announced last week that he would no longer pursue adding a citizenship question to the census. however, in that same speech, the president admitted that he wanted citizenship data to implement partisan gerrymandering. the president's statements directly contradict secretary ross' sworn testimony that the only reason, the sole reason the trump administration wanted the data was to help the justice department enforce the
voting rights act. the departments of justice and commerce have been engaged in a campaign to subvert our laws and the process congress put in place to maintain the integrity of the census. i will say to all of our members, let's be very careful on what we do with regard to the census. it has a tremendous impact for 10 years on how federal funds, more than $660 billion is appropriated over and over again. apportionment, redistricting, and making sure that every american gets their fair share ack of their taxpayer dollars, -- people king money
who make money for our taxes. the resolution that's before us today is about protecting our democracy. about t about -- it is protecting the integrity of this body. it's bigger than the census. it's about protecting the integrity of the congress of the united states of america. we need to understand how and why the trump administration tried to add a question based on pretext so we can consider reforms to ensure this never happens again. there are those who are asked the question -- why would the supreme court, having decided what they decided and why do you want the documents? we wanted documents because we want to make sure that we do not, in the future, spend a year, a year and a half chasing something that is not accurate.
in the words of the supreme court, a pretext, delaying our process of getting an accurate account, which is exactly what the constitution says we must do. so i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support our resolution, to hold attorney general barr and secretary ross in contempt of the congress of the united states of america. and with that, madam speaker, i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from kentucky. mr. comer: madam chair, i rise to claim time in opposition and i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. comer: we are here debating a premature and ill-advised resolution to hold attorney general william barr and secretary commerce wilbur ross
in contempt of congress. in the eyes of the current majority their crime is, not cooperating enough with the democrats' investigation into the reinstatement of the citizenship question on the 2020 census. first, this contempt citation is a misuse of one of the most powerful tools available to this body. second, the idea that the trump administration is stonewalling this investigation or even, in chairman cummings' words, engaged in a cover-up from the top, is simply wrong. the bottom line is, the department of justice and the department of commerce are cooperating with the investigation in the reinstitution of the citizenship question in the 2020 census. the administration has produced a total of 31,000 of pages of documents to the committee, 14,000 pages from the commerce
department, and 17,000 pages from the justice department. the committee had heard testimony from six witnesses with more interviews expected this month. secretary ross himself testified for over six hours about his decision to reinstate the citizenship question on the census. what the real issue we should be debating is why the democrats are afraid to ask how many -- let's remember, just one month ago the supreme court ruled asking a citizenship question on the census is constitutional . since the supreme court ruling, the president has said a citizenship question won't be in the 2020 census. to put away doubt on the 2020 census and all future censuses, i introduced a bill last night
to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. my bill is intended to put away all doubt about asking a citizenship question on this and future censuses. if the democrats can't impeach president trump, they will instead hold his cabinet in contempt of congress. this is just another episode in political theater. this exercise is not a responsible use of the contempt authority. this is just another attempt for the democrats to delegitimize the efforts to accurately count the number of united states citizens in the united states, something that should not be controversial. this is all part of the same game plan to manufacture controversy around anything associated with the trump administration. these are the sort of abusive tactics we should reject. these are the sort of tactics that give congress a bad reputation.
we should be better than this. i urge all members of the house to vote against moving this partisan contempt legislation. and i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. cummings: let me be very clear, this is not theater. i wish it was theater. it is not theater. this is about us making sure that we protect the integrity of the census and of this congress, and with that i want to yield now, madam speaker, to the distinguished lady from michigan, mrs. lawrence, two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for two minutes. mrs. lawrence: thank you, mr. chairman. i rise today in strong support of this resolution, to hold attorney general barr and commerce secretary ross in contempt of congress. madam speaker, we have reached a point that we as congress must have the courage and we have the duty of our
constituents of these united states of america to hold up the constitution. congress has an obligation to conduct oversight of the executive branch. yet, this administration complains each time we request information critical to fulfilling our investigative responsibilities. today, the full house will vote to hold attorney barr and secretary ross in contempt, criminal contempt of congress for their complete disregard of the constitution, not democrats, the constitution, and their refusal to provide our committee with relevant documents relative to the investigation of our 2020 census. it's 100% within our congressional responsibility to ensure the federal government is ultimately working in the best interest of people.
i urge my colleagues to support this resolution, to stand up and fulfill their duty and responsibility to the constitution, which says we must take care of the people of this great country and that as a ss will remain separate but equal branch of government. i thank you and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from kentucky. mr. comer: madamchairman, i yield two minutes to the gentleman from -- madam chairman, i yield two minutes to the gentleman. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. >> as we stand here today, our nation is dealing with a crisis at our southern border, our seniors are struggling with rising prescription drug prices, our farmers are waiting for a free and fair trade deal with mexico and canada, and our -- they have earned. yet, today, house democrats are once again putting off these
important issues and continuing with their partisan investigations of president trump and his administration. madam chair, this administration has produced 31,000 documents related to the census. this administration has made five senior officials available for interviews. all this due to a disagreement over a citizenship question on the census. madam chair, a citizenship question is not new nor should it be controversial. every census conducted by the united states government from 1820 to 1950 asked about citizenship. other countries ask about citizenship. the united nations recommends it as a best practice. and the census bureau today already asks a segment of the population about citizenship. but let's set these facts aside. given that president trump is no longer seeking about a citizenship question to the 2020 census, voting on a
resolution to hold two cabinet members in contempt of congress is simply a democratic tactic to waste this chamber's time and avoid working on the serious issues facing our nation. i urge members to vote against the resolution so that the house can stop this partisan nonsense and focus on meaningful policy. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland. . cummings: i yield to the lady of our committee, two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for two minutes. mrs. maloney: today we vote in the interest of our american people, our systems of checks and balances and our very constitution with this resolution to hold secretary ross and attorney general barr in criminal contempt. for well over a year, trump administration officials have lied you through their teeth
about the reason for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. they have repeatedly lied to congress, the supreme court, and to the american people. in an effort to cover up their lies, they blocked every demand from our committee, every demand to comply with reasonable oversight, withholding documents, asserting ill legitimate executive branch -- illegitimate executive branch and blatantly ignoring bipartisan subpoenas, all to a degree that would literally break the constitution if allowed to stand. . new evidence revealed in court and that i shared on this floor revealed that the real reason for the question to -- was to disenfranchise nonwhite voters. the supreme court ruled that the administration's explanation was, and i quote, contrimbed.
a functional democracy de -- contrimbed. a functional democracy depends on dwibblet. accountability requires real oversight. the passage of this criminal contempt resolution is necessary to preserve the integrity of all congressional oversight. on this and so many other issues now and into the future this contempt resolution, in fact, allows both democrats and republicans to do their job. never, ever during my time in congress have i encountered such complete contempt for the law. and that contempt deserves to be punished. i urge my colleagues to vote for this. our democracy depends on it. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from kentucky. mr. comer: i yield three minutes to the distinguished gentleman from north carolina, one of the great leaders of this body, mr. meadows. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for three minutes. mr. meadows: thank you madam
chair. thank you for your leadership. i thank the gentleman from kentucky. madam chairman, let me give you a quote. holding someone in contempt of congress is one of the most serious and formal actions our committee can take. it should not be used as a political tool to generate press as part of an election year witch-hunt. who is responsible for that quote? it's not ranking member jimoredian. it's not leader mccarthy. it's not conference chair liz cheney. it's chairman elijah cummings. those are his words. what we need to do is understand that we are using this as a political tool and we are better than that. we are better than that. so i'm going to quote also from another letter. from a letter from chairman cummings, at that time he was not the chairman, chairman cummings wrote a letter to
speaker boehner. he said a fundamental problem with conducting such a partisan investigation is that it results -- its results are not evenhanded but instead they are skewed, incomplete, and inaccurate. chairman cummings went on further, he said, these deficiencies are magnified when we rush a committee vote to a floor vote at breakneck speed with little concern for the facts or the law. what was he referring to? he was referring to a contempt vote on eric holder. here we are today in the same venue. i'm using the chairman's words. so i'm going to make an appeal to the chairman with the hopes that my good friend opposite will heed these words. because in that same letter he made a direct appeal to the speaker of the house at that particular time and he said, i hope that the chairman would
accept the attorney general is willing to come in and meet personally and enter into direct negotiations and enter in good faith to try to resolve this matter. so i'm hoping that the gentleman contempt resolution, not force a vote on this, enter into a direct negotiation with the attorney general of this great country. and hopefully resolve this without taking this particular matter. a madam chairman, i think it is critically important that we understand why we are here today. it is because we are using two standards. one standard for the minority party at one time. and one standard for a majority party another. let's use the same standard and make sure that we give the attorney general the ability to negotiate directly with the gentleman opposite. madam chair, i certainly hope that cooler heads will prevail and that we actually get to the bottom of this. it's about allowing congress to
do its job, but do it with respect. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. cummings: i yield myself such time as i may consume. let me be clear, first of all i want to thank the gentleman for quoting me so much. i'm tremendously honored. and i think the quotes that he useds -- used just reis rates what i said when i began how seriously i take this matter. i wouldn't be here if i did not consider this to be very serious. the other thing i would say is we made tremendous efforts, and the gentleman knows it because he's helped trying to work with me to try to get the documents and things that we need, we have not been able to get them. with that i yield to mr. gomez, two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. gomez: thank you, madam speaker. thank you, mr. chairman. the census can be used to either marginalize or empower
communities. this president decided on the path of marginalization. and they did that by coming up with an idea to silence the voices of immigrant communities throughout the country by adding a citizenship question that they deemed necessary to enforce the voting rights act. but for 53 years, for 53 years no department of justice had a problem of enforcing the voting rights act without census block data on citizenship. all of a sudden, 2017 comes around, you know what? we have a problem. and this is the excuse that they had. this is the reason they had to add this question to the citizenship -- census. it is just completely false. even to an extent that you saw that they said the department of justice was the ones that asked for it. then we find out later that they had to shop around to the department of homeland security and other departments in order to get somebody to try to ask for the census bureau to ask the
question. but they went back to jeff sessions who carried out their request. we are investigating because everything that they have said, the department of commerce, wilbur ross, who has been a complete lie. and if you don't believe me, the recent supreme court decision said, quote, unlike a typical case in which an agency may have stated and unstated rationale, the soul stated reason seems to have been constrived -- contrimbed. what does contrambed me? forced, artificial, manufactured, false. and that's what it is. it is a contrimbed reason. and the american people have a right to know the real reasons, not the contrimbed reasons, not the one that is were manufactured, not the ones that were made up. that's why we are asking for these documents. and that's why when congress cannot perform its obligations as an oversight and check on the executive branch, then we must hold these individuals in contempt.
i ask my colleagues to do the same thing. thank you. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from kentucky. mr. comer: madam chairman, i yield two minutes to the distinguished gentlewoman from west virginia, mrs. miller. the speaker pro tempore: the chair will remind members that we are in the committee of the whole house and as such they are to direct their remarks to the speaker pro tempore. the gentlelady is recognized. mrs. miller: madam speaker, i rise today to oppose the resolution before us. knowing who is in our country should not be controversial. let me repeat that. knowing who is in our country should not be controversial. although my colleague across the aisle have blurred fact and fiction on this issue, the truth is asking a citizenship question is standard operating procedure. it is currently asked on the censuses throughout the world. in australia, canada, germany, ireland, mexico, the u.k., and
many others. the u.n. even recommends asking the zibtship question as a best practice -- citizenship question as a best practice so countries can get accurate information about their citizens. it's not a new idea in the u.s., either. we first asked the citizenship question on the census in 1820. and continued the practice for the next 130 years. and it is still asked every year on the american community survey. the information collected is protected by federal law and our justice department uses the information to enforce the voting rights act. we still ask the citizenship question on i-9 employment eligibility forms. right here in the district of columbia, a citizenship question is asked on driver's license applications. they do the same in wisconsin. in california, anyone who applies for a firearm license has to answer a citizenship question. and in ohio, concealed carry
applicants must verify if they are citizens or not. these states believe it is fine to ask this question to obtain a firearm or driver's license. but it's not ok to ask on the census? so for anyone to claim that this is a hot button issue, i just don't buy it. it seems a little bit more like hot air. i'm glad that president trump is working across federal agencies to ensure that we can get this crucial information. i urge my colleagues to oppose this resolution so we can get back to actual work. i yield back my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady yields back. the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: madam speaker, i yield two minutes to the distinguished ranking member -- chairman of our committee on civil rights, the distinguished gentleman from maryland, my colleague, mr. raskin. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. raskin: thank you, madam speaker. thank you, mr. chairman. like the chairman i am charmed and tickled by the argument offered by our friend, mr. meadows, who quotes our beloved
chairman in resisting a rush to a contempt vote against attorney general holder. of course two sides can play this game because the gentleman from north carolina, of course, voted for and championed a contempt citation against the attorney general in that case. so why would he support a contempt finding as appropriate against one attorney general who is acting in a recalcitrant way but not another. madam speaker, this is not a policy battle about the citizenship question, although my friends seem to think that it is. they have already lost that battle. they lost it in the federal district courts three times. they lost it in the united states supreme court. they lost it with chief justice john roberts. they lost it with the majority of the supreme court. the supreme court that was gerrymandered by senator mcconnell to -- for precisely occasions like this so they could get the outcome they wanted. even that court rejected the contrimbed rationale that was
offered by the commerce department. it's been rejected by six former census directors. it was redirected by their own chief scientist in the commerce department in the census bureau. they lost the case under the census act. they lost the case under the administrative procedures act. even president trump acknowledges they lost at least today he acknowledges it, those though he does waiver back and forth. i hope nothing we say today will prompt him to start over again. they lost because their justification was contrimbed, according to chief justice roberts. it was made up. completely pretextual according o the federal district courts. arbitrarily, preeshes -- capricious, silly. we get the citizenship information we need right now and we have for the last 70 years under what was called the long form, now called the american community survey. six former census bureau directors said if you do what they wanted to do, but it's been rejected, if you do what they want to do you'll get far more inaccurate counting. you are going to get far more
incorrect count of america. 30 seconds more. mr. cummings: a minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. raskin: thank you very much. if you want -- we don't need to. they have already lost repeatedly on that. they seem to not want to acknowledge that basic discussion. this is about congressional power, madam speaker. and that's something that should unify every member of this body and institution. we must stand together. the supreme court has said repeatedly, the federal court said repeatedly our fact-finding power is inextrickable and indispensable to our legislative power. we have the power from the people, the sovereign political power of the people given us to legislate. we can't legislate if we can't get the information we need. sometimes we disagree with the majority with the stuff they want. i'm sure i wasn't here then then, but i would have disagreed maybe with. so fast and furious stuff or the millions of documents they got
in the benghazi investigation. makes no difference. the majority has the right to get what it wants. we have a right to get what we want. if you act with contempt for the congress of the united states of america and the people of the united states, we will hold you in contempt of the congress of the united states of america. i support these contempt resolutions. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from kentucky. mr. comer: madam speaker, i yield one minute to the distinguished gentleman from california, the great minority leader mccarthy. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. mccarthy: i thank the gentleman for yielding. before i walked out of my office i first looked at my calendar. i knew it was july, but i wondered if it was back in february. another day on the floor it's like groundhog day all over again. yesterday on this floor was a sad day. it's not a day about decorum. this is not a day about any of
the issues that any of my constituents asked about. they asked me when i go home, madam speaker, i envision that they ask most every member in this body, have you done anything of surprise billing? have you made sure pre-existing conditions is protected like that bill greg walden has with so many co-sponsors? have you done anything making sure the economy continues to grow? . no. i go home and i tell them, another resolution that attacked president trump or the administration. so we may be in july, but it's groundhog day all over again. are we doing anything about a budget? because, madam speaker, i listened, i listened to my colleagues when they say, show me your budget, show me your values. and i know winning in a
majority is important and i knew, madam speaker, when we were in the majority, putting a budget out is not easy, but it is the fundamental responsibility of a majority. so, yes, i came to this floor hoping we would have this debate but, no, no debate about a budget. can't tell my constituents that the majority did a budget this year. when they ask me, well, what about -- i read all these about a caps, that you got to come into agreement, no, i'm coming back down to the floor talking about contempt. they ask me, madam speaker, what contempt are you talking about? i said, well, it's in regards to the census. wasn't that all solved? yeah, that's already been solved, it's already been decided. but, madam speaker, this majority thinks it's another political opportunity. then, i listened and i heard
this -- heard this comment the other day. madam speaker, they said, i challenge you to find voters that can name a single thing house democrats have done for their kitchen table this year. a single thing challenging all voters and i wondered, did my press operation put that out? no. that didn't come from my office. then i wondered, maybe it was another republican inside this body. no, no, it wasn't one member elected on the republican side. this quote actually came from a chief of staff of one of the most prominent members on the other side of the aisle. i agree with that chief of staff. name me one thing that we have done for the kitchen table. yesterday, we did a resolution attacking the president, but we couldn't even get to that
because, madam speaker, we couldn't have decorum in this body. we set a record that we've never seen before based upon a speaker's action. the very first page in thomas jefferson's manual talks about decorum, but not only did this body try to change the rules after the fact, they don't think everybody's equal, madam speaker, because if your words get taken down, you don't have a right to speak that day but, no, we should change that. we should show them, the majority should get what they want. madam speaker, i guess the majority doesn't want a budget. i guess the majority doesn't want to do anything about surprise billing. i guess the majority doesn't want to find when it comes to our national defense to keep a 58-year history of bipartisanship. they broke that record, too. they made it partisan, and
that's what we did last week. now, we're right back at groundhog day and we are going to have contempt votes today, but that's not all we're going to do today. we are going to go for the third time on impeachment. impeefment -- impeachment. madam speaker, i watched a crisis on a border, i listened to the other side who asked the president if he would pause, pause a court action so we can deal with it, and i patiently waited those two weeks to have a hearing on it because, madam speaker, i'm not in the majority. i can't control these committees. the majority party can. they didn't have one hearing on it. but they scheduled another one. they got mueller coming in. they even postponed it so they can have more time. i guess 22 months, $40 million,
13 countries, i guess that's not enough. , i wonder if it's only one chief of staff challenging to find voters that can name a single thing house democrats have done for the kitchen table this year. because when i'm home, they don't come up to me and talk about party. they talk to me about what the house is doing. because in their house, their kitchen table, you know what they talk about there? they talk about their budget, because they do know their budget is their values, and they value having a budget. they'll talk politics, but i don't think they get too petty. it's interesting, in the kitchen table of the house of representatives, there's rules for different people. i thought the rule of law mattered in this country, and i was kind of excited when i
watched a problem solving caucus stand up together, republicans and democrats, before there was a vote for speaker in this congress and they requested, they requested a consensus calendar. what is a consensus calendar mean? it means if a member from any side of the aisle works really hard, that they believe in the issue, that they get 290 co-sponsors, and you have to understand what that means. that doesn't mean walking up to a congresswoman or congressman and say, will you support my bill, will you put your name on it, do you believe in this policy so great, will you put your name on it? it takes 218 to pass a bill. that's not the number. 290 to get above politics. if you made that happen, your bill would come to the floor. well, that was the rule. that's what we just put in. madam speaker, you know what happened? there was this congressman from south carolina, he didn't get
290. he's up to 370. he followed the exact rule that the majority just put in, and you know what happened the day he was going to be the very first bill on a consensus calendar? what was the topic that really brought people together? survivor benefits for those who gave their life defending this nation. i was proud. i was proud that more than 370 people in this body did not play politics with that issue. you know what happened when that day came? the rules are not equal. the rules are not equal. they are written but they are changed. they were changed last friday. they were changed so he could not have his vote, so congressman joe wilson could not come to this floor. was it changed in committee? no, no, no, no. they put it in a rule. self-executing.
yesterday when i watched decorum on this floor, any other member of this body would not have the right to speak if their words were taken down. me, you, anybody else. but, no. the rules were changed once again. and everybody on one side of the aisle, madam speaker, voted to change those rules, that they hold people seem to be different, seem to be special, .eem they can break the rules i guess the majority should get what they want, not what the people around the kitchen table in america want. i wonder. madam speaker, i wonder when i watch people campaign and they talk about what they want to achieve here how many said they wanted to have a week of
contempt, of impeach, and resolution all after one entity, the president of the united states. i didn't have anybody on any side of the aisle ever ask me that question. i hold this job with a great deal of respect. you know, there's less than 12,000 people that ever had the privilege to serve here. i travel a long way each week to have that opportunity. i spend a lot of time thinking about it. i spend a lot of time listening and talking to my constituents. last night, i went home and i did a telephone town hall. thousands of people were on that call. not one person asked me about the contempt of the census form that's already going out. they talked about an earthquake . they wondered if they'd have enough money. i don't know. we don't have a budget.
the hospital -- this community is not very big. ridgecrest. about 30,000. the earthquake did damage to the hospital. people can get some surprise billings. not anything of their fault. but we are not talking about it on this floor. we're not solving that problem, but we're holding another person in the administration in contempt. is this going to go anywhere? is this going to do anything for anybody's kitchen table? i know some people on the other side of the aisle, madam speaker, might get mad at this chief of staff, but sometimes you get upset when people speak the truth. sometimes it hurts. what hurts more to the american public is more of this. if it's just going to be groundhog day every day that we serve here, because once we get done with this, we'll debate impeachment for the third time,
for the third time we'll debate impeachment. when we go home this week and we talk about what we achieved, i don't know what i can say. that's not why we ran. we are better than this. when i watched the decorum yesterday, i know we were better than that, but what's most disturbing to me is, when somebody did not abide by the rules of the house, the rules were changed to protect that person. america's more than a country. america's an idea, an idea of self-governance, idea of a rule of law, of a respect. if you care so much to change the rule that you'd have a consensus calendar, abide by it, not just because somebody on the other side of the aisle worked harder. if you cared so much that you said a budget matters, that it sets the tone of who you are,
produce one. i understand there's winners and losers in elections, but, madam speaker, when i heard what a member said of why they wanted to battle, they admitted to their colleagues they were using the census investigation to gather information that, in his words, that the courts could use in ongoing litigation. so are we really here because your constituents asked about it? are we here just because you want to play a little more politics? because i will tell you this, you got another thing coming up right after they could play olitics on it one more time. that d ask, deep inside for once, let's put it aside. i know the election did not turn out the way you wanted it,
but in the end -- at the end of the day, people expect us to find common ground. they expect us to give on both sides, and i will guarantano you, no -- and i will guarantee you, i didn't go to the polls to send you there to spend a whole week attacking an administration. i imagine the majority of people that voted for you had that same question as the chief of staff. they wanted you to change the kitchen table. so let's start focusing on the issues that the american public is talking around their kitchen tables. and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: members are directed to direct their comments to the chair. the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: madam speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. cummings: i just want to make it clear, madam speaker, as i listened to the comments
of our very distinguished majority leader -- minority leader -- i forgot -- the fact is that what we are doing today is trying, again, to protect the integrity of this house and protect the integrity of the census and make sure that we get the records that we need to do our job. and i would hope that he would join us in making sure that happens because it's not just about us, it's about people that will come and fill these seats when we're dancing with the angels. and so with that i want to yield to the very distinguished gentleman from virginia, a man who leads our government operations subcommittee excellenty -- excellently, the gentleman from our committee, mr. connolly. the speaker pro tempore: the
gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. connolly: i thank the speaker and i thank my good friend, the distinguished chairman of the oversight and reform committee. madam speaker, what we just eard might be described as yperannuated chutzpah to bemoan accountability, to talk about a kitchen table that i think is imaginary. i can tell you it doesn't characterize the kitchen tables in my district, and it probably doesn't characterize them all across america, which is maybe why the minority leader is called that instead of the majority leader in this congress, because my republican friends abrogated any accountability, any oversight of this administration in the two years they were in the majority and mr. trump was in the white house.
americans are -- americans are focused on economic and health issue bus that doesn't mean they don't care what's happening to their country, they do. the census. the distinguished minority to focusesn't want you on why the census question was so important. because it's in a context that's disturbing. it's in a context of voter suppression all across america. get rid of early voting. restrict absentee voting. have stricter i.d. laws. make it harder for students and people of color to vote. purge voting rolls. have manufactured assertions about phony voting. as if that was a major problem n america. asking the censorship as a
citizenship question on the census is part and parcel of that scheme to discourage minority voting in america. to frighten immigrant communities. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. mr. cummings: i yield the gentleman 30 seconds. mr. connolly: and finally, maybe worst of all, to bemoan the change yesterday to allow the speaker to have her words considered and to allow her back on the floor. why? because we don't care about rules? no. because we care about the impact on millions of americans of harmful, racist words. to provide that duty some comfort to those people that this house cared was more important than a jew rid call
commitment to an ancient rule. i yield back. >> may i inquire how much time is remaining for each side? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from kentucky has 18 1/2 minutes. the gentleman from maryland has seven minutes. the gentleman from kentucky. >> i yield two minutes to the gentleman, mr. grothman. mr. grthman: prior to talking about the census i want to make one brief point in response to he other side. when we say the pledge of allegiance, we pledge allegiance to the flag and to the republic for which it stands. perhaps some speak thornse other side can do a little research as to why we pledge allegiance to the republic. today again, we are debating because of a potential question on the census.
there's certain people who feel that it would be wrong to ask about citizenship on the census. i can tell you as a lawmaker, i would certainly like to know how many people in this country are citizens. i would also like to know how many people are legal or illegal, both of which may affect decisions we make here. i have a bill up in the past, i'll reintroduce it this year that says that people who are noncitizens shouldn't be eligible for public benefits. if that bill were ever to become law, i can easily imagine distributions of money from this place being affected. by the results on the census like that. other problems don't have problems getting numbers if they ask about sintship. canada doesn't have a problem. mexico doesn't have a problem. that's why the united nations recommends we ask about citizenship. it didn't result in bad censuses
until 1950. results't result in bad on the long form or bad results on the community survey. it doesn't result in problems in the state of wisconsin where we have a citizenship question that you have to answer prior to getting a driver's license. so i wish we would put away this resolution today. i don't think it is right to spend more time debating the census question. i hope if president trump -- if this does not appear on the census that it is eventually put in the census for 2030. thank you. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: i now yield two minutes to the distinguished gentlelady from the district of columbia, ms. norton. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for two minutes. ms. norton: thank you, madam speaker. i thank my good friend for courageously bringing this
contempt resolution to the house today. the authority, the very integrity of the house of representatives had been challenged by the administration as never before in american history. if it were not for the supreme court, the administration's determination to deliberately prevent an accurate census count would have succeeded. neither the president nor the republican house has the support of a majority of the american people. using secretary ross, the administration tried to cheat its way to an undercount. both attorney general barr and secretary ross have gone out of their way to refuse to provide needed documents or offered pretext for not providing them
pursuant to valid subpoenas. so serious has been this obstruction that the house must seek criminal contempt, which can carry stiff penalties and prison time, or simply surrender to the administration and invite continuing obstruction of our ability to perform our legislative and oversight functions. to be sure, we fully recognize the difficulty of enforcement of criminal contempt against this administration by this administration. but the house would as soon surrender its authority as to take no action in the face of historic and willful defiance. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the
gentlelady yields back. the gentleman from kentucky. mr. comer: i yield three minutes to the gentleman from ohio, the distinguished ranking member of the oversight committee, mr. jordan. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for three minutes. mr. jordan: thank you, madam chair. i want to thank the gentleman from kentucky for his great work on the committee. secretary ross and attorney general barr are doing their jobs, so what's their reward? democrats will hold them in contempt. both agencies, the commerce department, the justice department have submitted 31,000 documents to the committee, they've made available all kinds of witnesses for depositions and transcribed interviews. we've got another one happening late they are month. and the secretary himself sat for over six hours in a hearing answering every single question the committee had. raised his hand, said he swore to tell the truth, whole truth, so help him god, answered the questions, what disease he get for it? democrats are going to hold him
in contempt. why are they doing this? why are they doing this? all because, all because they don't want a simple question on the census. are you a citizen of the united states of america? that one sentence is driving it all. are you a citizen of the greatest nation in history, is driving it all. they're going to hold two people doing their jobs in contempt. all because they don't want to do what's been done for 200 years in this country since 1820, in one form or another, we have been asking the citizenship question on a census. they're going to hold them in contempt. all because they don't want to do what the u.n. says is a best practice. they're going to hold them in contempt. all because they don't want to do what just plain old commonsense. listen to what justice alito says in his opinion a couple of weeks ago. no one disputes that it's important to know how many inhabitants of this country are citizens.
and the most direct way to gather this information is to ask it in a census. shazam. imagine that. best way to figure it out is to ask people in the country that you're surveying. holy cow. and here's the kicker. here's the final thing. you go anywhere. go anywhere in this country. any state you want to go. to walk up on some small town, some big city, walk up on the street, ask someone on the street, do you think when we do the census, to figure out how many people are in this country, it's appropriate to ask if you're a citizen? every person you talk to, every single one of them, will say, well heck yeah. and oh by the way, aren't we doing that already? and you'd have to say, yes. we've been doing it for 200 years. this resolution is ridiculous and we should vote it down. with that, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from maryland.
mr. cummings: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. cummings: madam speaker, i want to remind our distinguished ranking member, when he talks about quoting from the courts, we might want to look at what the supreme court said about the language that mr. ross, secretary ross, used in our committee, and he -- because the same language was used in the spleem court case. and what the supreme court said was that, that was contrived. and that's a quote. and incongruent with what the record revealed. in other words he was saying it was not accurate. he may have come and testified before us but it was not accurate. i want to yield to the gentlelady, a member of the committee, ms. plaskett. for two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for two minutes.
ms. plaskett: thank you, madam speaker. i want to respond first to the distinguished gentleman from california, the minority leader, mr. mccarthy, when he talks about us doing work. he asked us if work was being done here in congress and that we weren't responding to the daily needs of america. i would remind him and remind the speaker that we in fact have passed the vibles against women act in the judiciary committee. the energy and commerce committee pass passed the prescription drug bill that came to this floor. energy and commerce is working on medicaid as we speak. right now. 150 bills have been passed by this body and are sitting on the desk of his friend, the senate leader, mitch mcconnell, who has decided he is not interested in the work of the people of the united states. but guess what, we can walk and chew gum at the same time, as i said. than committee's responseability is oversight.
not anything else. and that's what we are doing is oversight of this administration. i know that's difficult for that side of the aisle to want to think about. overseeing and not reining in individuals who may be acting outside of the law. last year, when secretary ross testified before congress, he said he added the citizenship question solely to help the department of justice enforce the violence rights act. we understand that may not have been true. and he has given us unresponsive, that's a legal term, unresponsive documents in those thousands of documents that he has turned over to us. not the documents that we have asked. and it's our responsibility as the oversight committee to hold individual responseable. i would ask that my colleagues across the aisle would consider their responsibilities on this committee. if you want to sit on the committee, to do the work of the committee, and that is overseeing this administration.
i think that we have done our job and we are doing it well. if he has not been responsible, we must hold him in contempt. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from kentucky. mr. comer: i yield two minutes to the distinguished gentleman from gai, mr. hice. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. hice: this is not the way we're supposed to go about the business of oversight. contempt resolutions are generally something that happens deep inside and deep within an ongoing investigation when the committee has run up against brick walls and have exhausted all possibilities before them. that is certainly not the case here. we are in the middle of an investigation into federal agencies that are complying with our requests. this is absurd. the oversight committee has held six transcribed interviews with witnesses. another one is on the way within
days. commerce department and justice department has produced over 31,000 pages, documents, bined 14,000 from commerce, 17,000 from justice. these are not things that happen when we're talking about federal agencies that are stonewalling an investigation. that simply is not what's happening here. this investigation has only been going on for a couple of short months and i would like to remind this chamber that it wasn't too long ago that then-ranking member cummings cautioned himself against pursuing a resolution of contempt in 2012 and that was after a year of stonewall big the obama administration. we're just a couple of months into this one. look, if these federal agencies were legitimately stonewalling investigations as the obama administration did, i would certainly feel differently and i'm sure others here would as well but they are not
stonewalling and the facts simply don't support this contempt resolution. i urge my colleagues not to support this. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. mr. cummings: we reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from kentucky. mr. comer: i yield one minute to the gentleman from north carolina, mr. meadows. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. meadows: thank you, madam speaker. madam speaker, i want to make a point that in this body, now on two consecutive days, we've broken the rules of congress to expedite things. in this particular contempt resolution, i want to make sure hat the record reflects that we broke rule 2-f, it was brought to the attention of the chairman, and here we are again
going and violating the rules of the house, not the rules the minority put in place, but the rules the majority put in place, and we gave the chairman the chance to perfect this procedural problem and, yet, they continued on to hold this contempt violation. so i can tell you, they may vote today to hold them in contempt, but it's a violation of congress' very rules itself that should have been remedied and with that, i ask that the gentleman opposite withdraws his resolution so we can perfect this. yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from kentucky. mr. comer: madam chairman, i yield two minutes to the distinguished gentleman from north dakota, mr. armstrong. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. armstrong: thank you, madam chair. upon assumption of the chairmanship of the committee january 19, chairman of the oversight committee formally of ate an investigation
the reincity tution of the -- reinstitute the citizenship question. the supreme court has issued a ruling, and the supreme court ruled the administration may ask a citizenship question but rejected the rationale presented by the secretary -- secretary ross for adding the question on the 2020 census. the committee's fact finding is still active and ongoing. the administration is cooperating with the investigation. the d.o.c. and the d.o.j. have produced 41,000 responsive documents, 14,000 from the d.o.c., and 17,000 from the d.o.j. the committee has held six transcribed interviews with witnesses, and a seventh interview is expected. in short, madam chair, the judiciary committee has already held bill barr in contempt for not violating federal law, and now the oversight committee is about to hold bill barr in contempt for cooperating with
the committee this is wrong. this is not how we're supposed to do business in this chamber, and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: jament maryland reserves. the gentleman from kentucky. mr. comer: madam chair, i yield two minutes to the gentleman from texas, mr. gohmert. mr. gohmert: thank you. this is such a disturbing time for those of us that have spent our lives, our adult lives trying to see that justice is done, laws are followed, and yet, here we, again, come after attorney general bill barr and another cabinet official ross. truth is, i didn't know bill barr when he got appointed, nominated, but i knew that he was friends with bob mueller. that caused me concern. but it appears we have an
attorney general who is concerned about justice, and he's concerned about stopping injustices. and yet, we still have people that are wanting to cause as much trouble for the president, stop his administration from getting as much accomplished for the american people as possible. and it's got to stop at some point. and so it's like a game we come here and we're going to hold him in contempt again. this is a double secret probation against bob barr. how many double, triple, quadruple secret probations are we going to have? a judge will look at the procedure and go, this is ridiculous. you are not going to have me hold the attorney general in contempt for trying to follow the law, and you're wanting to interrupt his efforts to follow the law.
that's not happening. so this is all about a show when there is true injustice going on, and thank god we have a president that wanted to see justice done. he knew he didn't collude, and now we have an attorney general that's trying to do the same thing. let's say no to this contempt. let's get back to doing the job the american people want us to do. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. mr. cummings: we reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman be continues to -- the gentleman continues to reserve. mr. comer: madam chair, i would like to let chairman cummings know we have no speakers. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: we are ready to close. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from kentucky is recognized to close. mr. comer: madam speaker, i think just about everyone who spoke on our side of the aisle made the factual points that this is not necessary. this resolution is an ongoing
attempt by the majority party to try to do anything they can to disrupt the presidency of our president of the united states. every country, just about in the world, asks the citizenship question. mexico and canada asks the citizenship question. in fact, the united nations recommends that countries ask the citizenship question. i don't, for the life of me, know why we would resort to this type of action in this body, especially after what happened yesterday. i wonder, madam speaker, is this an attempt to try to move the direction of the american people from their frustration
at the lack of achievement by the majority party from a legislative standpoint to try to somehow enrage their anger at the president? this is unnecessary. this is more political theater, and i urge the members of this body to oppose this resolution. the speaker pro tempore: does the gentleman yield back? mr. comer: i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: madam speaker, may i inquire how much life is left? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman has two minutes remaining. mr. cummings: very well. madam speaker, i yield myself two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. cummings: some of my colleagues have argued holding secretary ross and attorney general barr in contempt of congress is premature. that's simply not true. f anything, it is long overdue . the department of commerce and the department of justice have failed to comply with congressional requests for more
than a year. the oversight committee democrats first asked for documents from the commerce department in april of 2018, and from the department of justice may of 2018. those requests were ignored. when i became chairman, i renewed those requests. in response, the administration produced thousands of pages, but most of the documents were either heavily redacted, already public, or nonresponsive to the committee's requests. so the committee narrowed its request and issued bipartisan subpoenas to compel production of that narrow group of documents. that was in april, more than three months ago. i even asked secretary ross to meet with me personally. he refused, and last month, the committee passed the bipartisan resolution before us to hold
secretary ross and attorney general barr in contempt of congress. still neither -- still, neither departments provided us with the documents we asked for. so i come to the floor to ask my members to vote in favor of this. i, again, don't bring this lightly. this is not theater. this is about doing our job. this is about protecting the integrity of not only our census but of our congress, and with that, madam speaker, i urge all members to vote >> and the house would go on to approve the resolution holding william barr and commerce secretary wilbur ross in contempt of congress by a vote f 230-198. brindisi, golden were the only democrats to vote against along with lamb and van drew.
amash joined the 229 democrats who voted in favor. wednesday's house session, texas democratic representative al green also offered another resolution on impeaching trump. that measure was blocked by a ide margin vote of 332-95 with representative peter defazio oting present. >> c-span opened the doors to washington policymaking for all to see, bringing you unfiltered content from congress and beyond. a lot has changed in 40 years but today that big idea is morrell vant than ever. on television and online, c-span is your unfiltered view of government, so you can make up your own mind, brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. >> this weekend on "book tv," turday at 8:55 p.m. eastern,
the global backlash against immigrants in his book "this land is our land." >> and for most migrants, it's destiny. at the border when asked, what are you? the difference between refugee migrant or economic migrant can literally mean the difference between life and death. >> at 9:00 on "after words," the federalist molly hemingway and judicial crisis network examine the confirmation of supreme court justice brett kavanaugh and the future of the court. they're interviewed by supreme court correspondent david savage. >> we are trying to figure out in talking to all these people, who was -- we had a different kavanaugh earlier that week when he did a network. much more the bushy approach, right? on thursday when he really came
out strong and it was fascinating to learn in fact that was the person he really had been early on, as the court has become more political in its decisionmaking, when it makes -- when it makes law rather than interpreting the law as it is written, that creates a very political situation and it's not altogether surprising it becomes the pro-- the process itself becomes more political. >> cbs news legal analyst kim offers her guide to reading and understanding the u.s. constitution in her new book "how to read the constitution and why." >> ok. a question i get a lot on television and regular conversation is, can he do that? can the president do that? and my answer is, that's the wrong question. the question is, if he does that -- and we had up until now presidents who don't cross certain boundaries -- what's the consequence? what are the processes for holding a president accountable? >> watch "book tv" every
weekend on c-span2. >> for his 2020 re-election campaign, president trump held a rally in greenville, north carolina. he talked about congressional efforts to have him impeached and the four freshmen democratic house members he recently referred to in a series of critical tweets. this merely two-hour event begins with sbrocketry remarks -- introductory remarks by vice president pence. >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the vice president of the united states, mike pence. >> ♪ cheers and applause] >> ♪ sun coming
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