Congress Returns: Now What?

The US Capitol Building

The United States Capitol Building, the seat of Congress, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Congress has been in recess for two weeks but returns now, and the question everyone is asking is, what will they do now?

Yes, there are a variety of proposals that we expect them to discuss and perhaps take action on such as:

> a disaster relief bill for states and territories hit by hurricanes and wildfires
> infrastructure
> NAFTA trade deal
> Medicare for All hearing
> Equal Rights Amendment hearing
> continued fighting over the Affordable Care Act
> HR 9, the climate action bill

But a lot of folks are looking at the battle between Congress and the White House, as the White House has increasingly refused to cooperate with Congress. Simply put, they don’t want Congress conducting any oversight whatsoever and are outright telling members of the administration to not show up for hearings or produce any requested documents.

In response, the Democratic led House is starting to issue subpoenas which we are now learning that administration officials may ignore. They cannot ignore a lawful subpoena, and the Democrats can enforce them in three ways: 1) They can refer the offending official to the Department of Justice for prosecution, 2) they can start a civil proceeding against the offender for being in contempt, or 3) Congress can hold the official in contempt and have them imprisoned.

Considering that DOJ officials themselves are being unhelpful, Option 1 doesn’t seem like the right course of action. Option 2 takes a lot of time. Option 3 is quick but will be seen as drastic. That said, voters clearly wanted a Congress that would hold the executive branch accountable (thank you, biggest blue wave ever) and so the Democrats will have to respond in some way. They cannot let it slide.

To that last point, many members of Congress just spent two weeks back home, talking to constituents and according to some media outlets, are definitely hearing that their voters want accountability for the White House, but don’t feel much pressure to run into impeachment hearings. Whatever you want your own representatives to do, make sure they know about it. Call their office or send them an email.

Next week should be interesting.

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