A vote will be taken by the Oversight Committee of the House of Representatives on Wednesday to determine whether contempt of Congress charges should be levied against Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Attorney General William Barr. The potential charges are a result of the Committee’s belief that two men worked to stonewall an investigation regarding the 2020 Census being used as part of a politicized scheme.
Elijah Cummings is the Democratic representative who acts as the chairman of the committee. Cummings says both Barr and Ross have been issued subpoenas from Congress and are refusing to comply. Cummings said the vote to enforce the subpoenas is necessary because the two men are presently in contempt of Congress.
Ross characterized the vote as an ’empty stunt’ on the part of the committee. He says he was interviewed for seven hours and provided 14,000 pages of documents to the Committee.
If the vote by the Committee finds the pair in contempt, then the entire House will vote. If the House as a whole agree the men are in contempt, Barr and Ross can be taken to court in order to force their compliance.
According to the NY Times report, the source of the disagreement is a plan by President Donald Trump’s administration to include a new question pertaining to citizenship on the questionnaire to be used for next year’s census.
Critics of the question say it will deter immigrants from taking part in the Census. Democrats say this can handicap there party by causing them to undercount states that support them.
Ross counters this argument by saying the question is needed to protect the Voting Rights Act. The Act makes it necessary to keep an accurate count of Americans of voting age to make sure the rights of minority voters are not infringed upon.
Democrats on the Committee say the contempt vote was only scheduled after Barr and Ross failed to produce requested documents for two full months after a subpoena was issued.
Ross, according to the Committee, says he personally added the question to the Census, after a request was made from the Department of Justice.
Panel members allege Ross began a covert campaign to have the question added to the Census not long after his appointment. They also say it was many months before any request was made from the Department of Justice.
The Department of Justice has not responded to requests for comments over the scheduled contempt of Congress vote.