This Wednesday, after getting announced just a couple days prior, the House Oversight Committee kicked off a hearing covering contempt resolutions against Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Attorney General Bill Barr for their refusals to cooperate with attempts to understand the background of the addition of a question about respondents’ citizenship status to the United States Census, which is next set to be completed next year. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) slammed their obstruction and her Republican colleagues who want to go along with it during fiery commentary offered during that hearing.
The question, in short, could disenfranchise minority and immigrant communities considering the Trump administration’s established harshness towards those whose citizenship status is even remotely in question — which it’s recently emerged was an explicit intent behind the effort.
Ocasio-Cortez shared, rebuking those accusing her and her allies of trying to ignore legitimate questions of status:
‘This is not whether or not I want to know who is a citizen in the United States or not… I want to know why we have skipped every normal, mandated procedure in testing how this question gets added to the Census. I want to know why this question was magically added after we have seen that a political operative knew and detailed an intent to intimidate racial and immigrant communities for a partisan purpose… I want to know why people like Kris Kobach… [who] has a resume of voter suppression in the state of Kansas — I want to know why folks like that have their fingerprints all over the most sensitive Census operations that we have as a United States government… I want to know about corruption. I want to know about the racism and the very disturbing history that we’re seeing here.’
Ocasio-Cortez went on to slam the Trump administration’s “stonewalling” in the face of Congressional efforts to understand the background of the Census citizenship question getting added, asserting that “it should be expected that when we ask a question, we get a response.” The Trump administration is continuing passionately on with their obstruction to the point of President Donald Trump declaring executive privilege just this Wednesday over related documents that Democrats have been after.
In response to this continued behavior, Ocasio-Cortez asserted that although she was not chomping at the bit to target the Trump administration with further harsh action, they’d left the committee with “no choice.”
As she put it:
‘This is about the rule of law. This is about the respect of our institutions, and this is about the power of all of us as a body… and the integrity of the government of the United States.’
The committee’s contempt resolution against Barr is one of a few he’s faced in just months on the job. The House Judiciary Committee passed one over his refusal to comply with a subpoena for the final report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, but related proceedings were paused recently. Still, the full House approved a resolution on Tuesday holding Barr in “civil contempt” that originated with another committee.
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