Rep. Nadler Praises Passage of the Congressional Subpoena Compliance and Enforcement Act
Washington, DC, October 24, 2017
Yesterday, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), senior Member of the House Judiciary Committee and Ranking Member of the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Subcommittee, spoke out on the House floor in favor of H.R. 4010, the Congressional Subpoena Compliance and Enforcement Act of 2017, which allows the House of Representatives to enforce certain congressional subpoenas in federal court. The bill passed the House on a voice vote.
“I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
“I rise in strong support of H.R. 4010, the “Congressional Subpoena Compliance and Enforcement Act of 2017.” My support of this legislation is tied to my view of our Committee’s responsibility to conduct oversight of the executive branch.
“Nearly a century ago, in McGrain v. Daugherty, the United States Supreme Court framed that responsibility this way:
“’A legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions in which the legislation is intended to affect or change....
“And where the legislative body does not itself possess the requisite information—which is not infrequently true—recourse must be had to others who do possess it.’
“In other words, it is our responsibility to ask for the information we require to do our jobs effectively, and the Constitution empowers us to enforce those requests if we are, at first, denied.
“We should be very clear on this point: Congress does not require a statute in order to enforce its subpoenas in federal court.
“We know this, of course, because in 2008, the House Judiciary Committee went to court to defend that authority.
“And, ruling in favor of the Committee, the court held that the Bush Administration’s claim of absolute immunity from our process “is entirely unsupported by existing case law.”
“In effect, both government officials and private individuals have a legal obligation to comply with a duly issued congressional subpoena—whether or not the bill before us today is enacted into law.
“Still, this legislation is useful as a means to codify certain practices and to expedite enforcement of subpoenas in federal court.
“It also puts the House on equal footing with the Senate, which has had a statute in place since 1978 allowing that body to enforce at least some of its subpoenas in federal court.
“I want to thank Chairman Goodlatte for working with us to make sure that we strike the right balance.
“This bill both protects our existing authority, and mitigates many concerns about abuse of subpoena power by a runaway committee.
“I also want to thank Mr. Issa, the Gentleman from California, for his leadership on this issue.
“We often disagree about the issues we should prioritize for oversight—but I suspect that we stand together on the importance of oversight, both to our Committee and to Congress as a whole.
“I ask that my colleagues support the measure.
“I thank the Speaker, and I reserve the balance of my time.”
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