Statement on Contempt of Congress Citations

Transcript: 

mr. hoyer: i thank the gentlelady for yielding. we are dealing in these days with serious issues. and serious people have been considering these issues in committee and we will now consider it on the floor. this matter has been pending now for over half a year. madam speaker, in 1885 a young scholar wrote an influential book about the united states congress entitled ""congressional government."" and in that book he offered the following observations about legislative branch oversight and he said this. quite as important as legislation is vigilant oversight of the administration. not any particular administration, but of the other co-equal branch of government. he continued, it is the proper duty of a representative body to look diligently into every affair of government and to talk much about what it sees. the informing function of congress, not just informing ourselves but informing the american public as well, the informing function of congress should be preferred even to its legislative function an interesting observation. many years later in 1913, that young scholar, woodrow wilson, became president of the united states. congressional oversight of any administration is absolutely imperative to the proper functioning ever our government. to our system of checks and balances, and to the fulfillment of our constitutional duty. the president who is forced to answer for his administration's actions, decisions, and conduct is a president who is less likely to amass power beyond that which the constitution prescribes for his office or to imperil the welfare of our republic form of government. and that is the constitutional interest that today's resolution addresses. i support the rule before us because i believe in a system of checks and balances in which no branch holds itself above the constitutional objectives of a sharing of authority which the founders wisely believed was essential to protect against the abuse of that authority by any one of those branches. the issue before this body is not fundamentally whether the current administration acted properly and within the law when it dismissed seven u.s. attorneys in 2006. that may be the issue at some point in time, but unless we have the information to get to that point, such a quest will be moot. nor is this a partisan clash between a democratic house and a republican president. rather, the basic issue before this house is this, whether this body and the committee system which is central to our duties to perform meaningful and vigorous oversight, can simply be ignored. by the executive branch when this body seeks testimony and documents relevant to an important public policy controversy. as ""the new york times"" noted this morning, quote, if congress fails to enforce its own subpoenas, it would effectively be creeding -- ceding subpoena power, it would also be giving -- its tacit consent to the dangerous idea of an imperial president. above the law and beyond the reach of checks and balances. what profited a nation if we include checks and balances within our constitutional framework to protect our country's freedom, and more importantly our people's freedom if in fact we honor it only in the bridge? as bruce fine, the constitutional scholar and justice official during the reagan administration has stated, if congress shies from ...