Committee votes to hold Barr, Ross in contempt
by Kyle Ziemnick
Posted 6/12/19, 06:03 pm
WASHINGTON—The House Oversight and Reform Committee voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for not complying with subpoenas for documents about the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The vote was 24-15 along party lines with one notable exception. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., who recently called for President Donald Trump’s impeachment and left the conservative House Freedom Caucus, voted in favor of the motion.
“This is a significant moment in our history; the history of this country,” Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said during the hearing.
The House of Representatives with its Democratic majority still has to vote on the motion, but it’s unlikely that holding the two in contempt will lead to any ramifications for Barr or Ross since neither faces criminal charges.
The White House excused the two Cabinet members from answering the subpoenas by claiming executive privilege over the documents, calling the contempt vote “unnecessary and premature.”
The GOP argues a citizenship question on the census would give a better picture of illegal immigration, while Democrats believe it would reduce census participation in immigrant-heavy communities and result in an undercount of minority voters. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering a lawsuit over whether the Commerce Department, which oversees the census, followed federal transparency laws in developing the question.
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Kyle is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.