House contempt vote needed and overdue

Common Cause applauds the House of Representatives for today finding Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with Judiciary Committee subpoenas.

“This is not a partisan issue as some have tried to characterize it,” said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause. “This is about allowing the House of Representatives to perform its constitutionally mandated duty to provide Congressional oversight of the Executive branch. It is about preserving the three co-equal branches of government upon which the Constitution is founded.”

The Judiciary Committee has found credible evidence suggesting there were violations of federal law in the firings of nine U.S. Attorneys. “Congress must have the tools to find the truth through investigation as to whether or not there was wrongdoing in the Justice Department or the White House,” Edgar said.

The House vote today further authorized the Judiciary Committee to initiate or intervene in judicial proceedings, giving the House standing to bring the case before a judge. This would be needed in the event the Justice Department refuses to enforce the subpoenas, a move that has been suggested by several Justice Officials.

“The public interest is served here by a Congress that takes its oversight and investigative duties seriously, and will not be cowed by witnesses who refuse to testify before its committees and who ignore Congressional subpoenas for relevant documents and testimony,” Edgar said.