Common Cause would like to express its strong support for the Abuse of Executive Privilege Resolution (H Res 689) sponsored by Rep. Darlene Hooley and ask you to become a co-sponsor. The non-binding sense of the House Resolution calls on President Bush to urge all those in or related to his Administration who have asserted executive privilege to avoid testifying before House committees, to come forward and testify fully and truthfully before the relevant committees. The resolution also calls on the President to use all legal means at his disposal to compel his people to cooperate with congressional investigations.
This is not a partisan issue. It is a Constitutional balance of power issue; a test of whether members of the House feel a President and his people should be held accountable no matter which party they are from and no matter which party controls Congress.
In 1998, when the House of Representatives felt President Clinton was shielding staff and associates from testifying before Congress, a resolution very similar to Rep. Hooley's resolution was passed calling on the President to compel cooperation by his people. That resolution, (H RES 433) passed with considerable bi-partisan support on a vote of 342 to 69 with 12 voting present.
In our democracy, oversight of the executive branch is one of the legislative branch's most important functions. This critical role is compromised when Presidents use overly broad claims of executive privilege to prevent Congress from hearing witnesses and seeing documents needed in carrying out its constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities. In order for the government to function as the Constitution intended, in order for there to be basic separation of powers, Congress must have access to all witnesses and documents necessary to perform adequate oversight of the executive branch.
Today, President Bush has blocked staff and former staff from honoring Congressional subpoenas. He has also announced his intentions to take other drastic actions if necessary to prevent the House from compelling their testimony. This is unacceptable to Common Cause and should also be unacceptable to the House of Representatives.
The American people are gravely concerned about what they see going on in the Executive branch and they have the right to expect that the House of Representatives will act on their behalf to find the truth. The House must again do what it did in 1998, and send a bi-partisan message to the Administration that it intends to fully exercise its oversight responsibilities and expects the Administration's full cooperation.
If you are already a co-sponsor of Rep. Hooley's Resolution, H Res 689, we sincerely thank you. If you are not yet a co-sponsor, we urge you to sign on to the resolution as soon as possible.
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