Home Democrats on Wednesday voted to hold Legal Professional Common William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in legal contempt of Congress for defying subpoenas related to President Donald Trump’s push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The resolution passed by a vote of 230-198. It marks the latest escalation in the struggle between Democrats, who say their oversight duties require launching a slew of subpoenas and requests for information from the Trump administration, and Trump, who has vowed to battle “all the subpoenas” from the House.
The Home Oversight and Government Reform Committee last month voted to recommend that the entire Home maintain Barr and Ross in contempt for “refusing to comply” with their subpoenas for information about the census controversy.
Trump had asserted government privilege over the documents requested by the committee. A Commerce Department official informed Cummings in a letter at the time that Trump’s hand forced because Oversight had set an “unnecessary” and “premature” contempt vote “rather than allowing the Department to complete its document production.”
Trump abandoned his bid to add the citizenship question to the 2020 census last Thursday, just a few weeks after the Supreme Courtroom blocked the problem. Chief Justice John Roberts said Ross’ reasoning for adding the citizenship question was “contrived” and not “genuine.” Trump himself told the rationale for the issue on the census was for redistricting purposes.
Instead of gathering the data through the census, Trump said he would order federal agencies to give the Commerce Department all records related to data relating to what number of residents and noncitizens dwell in America.
The census question would have led to fewer responses, especially in households with noncitizens, according to Census Bureau research. Democrats say adding the issue would result in an undercount in areas with a large Hispanic population and different minority communities, which would reduce Democratic representation in such areas.