House Democrats will vote next week on criminal contempt charges against Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena over the 2020 census, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday.
The vote — the second time a sitting attorney general would be found in criminal contempt by the House — has little real-world impact as Barr almost certainly won’t face criminal charges from the Justice Department over efforts to include a citizenship question.
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But the symbolic value would be high, as Democrats have already approved a civil contempt resolution against Barr for failing to respond to a subpoena to testify about former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia election interference. Mueller will testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence panels next Wednesday.
While the Supreme Court ruled the administration cannot include the citizenship question on the census, President Donald Trump is still trying to do so by executive order, which will lead to more legal battles.
“Next week, the full House will vote on a resolution of criminal contempt for Attorney General Barr and Secretary Ross so we can enforce our subpoenas and get the facts,” Pelosi told reporters.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in a statement that the vote would take place Tuesday.
The citizenship question is meant “only to deter minorities from participating and leading to an undercount in parts of the country,” Hoyer said. “The House will not shirk from its oversight of this administration and its malign effort to silence the voices of millions in our democracy and deny resources to communities in need of them.”
A criminal contempt resolution against former Attorney General Eric Holder over the “Fast and Furious” gun-walking probe was approved by the House in June 2012. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, whose office oversees any criminal cases arising out of such cases, declined to charge Holder.