June 10, 2019 6:50 pm
Updated: June 10, 2019 7:33 pm

William Barr, Wilbur Ross face contempt votes on Wednesday

Left, U.S. Attorney General William Barr. Right, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.


The U.S. House Oversight Committee plans to vote on Wednesday on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for stonewalling a probe into an alleged scheme to politicize the 2020 U.S. Census.

“Both Secretary Ross and Attorney General Barr are refusing to comply with duly authorized subpoenas from Congress,” the committee’s chairman, Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, said on Monday in a statement announcing the vote.

“Because they are in contempt of Congress, on Wednesday, the Committee will vote to move forward to enforce our bipartisan subpoenas,” Cummings said.

WATCH: May 8 — House Judiciary Committee votes in favour of holding William Barr in contempt

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If the committee finds them in contempt, a vote could then take place in the full, Democratic-led House. If the full House votes in favor of contempt, the House could take Ross and Barr to court to seek compliance.

The committee is investigating a plan by President Donald Trump’s administration to add a question on citizenship to next year’s U.S. Census questionnaire.

Critics believe including the question will scare immigrants and Latinos into abstaining from the survey, which is taken every 10 years. That could disproportionately undercount Democratic-leaning states, they argue.

READ MORE: William Barr, Wilbur Ross may be held in contempt amid row over Census citizenship question

Ross has said the citizenship question would help enforce the Voting Rights Act, which requires a tally of citizens of voting age to protect minorities against discrimination.

The panel’s Democrats said they scheduled the contempt vote after both Ross and Barr did not produce documents about the issue in response to a bipartisan subpoena the panel issued more than two months ago.

The committee said Ross testified that he added the citizenship question “solely” at the request of the Justice Department.

WATCH: May 10 — Adam Schiff proposes daily $25K contempt fine for officials who stonewall congress

However, the committee said documents showed that Ross “began a secret campaign” to add the question to the census questionnaire shortly after taking office and months before being asked to do so by the Justice Department.

The Justice Department and the Commerce Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the committee’s move to schedule a contempt vote.

READ MORE: Democrats set contempt vote for William Barr over Mueller report

© 2019 Thomson Reuters

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