Saturday, February 16, 2008
Yesterday the House of Representatives took several historic steps towards protecting our system of checks and balances. First, by a vote of 223 to 32, the House passed resolutions referring criminal contempt citations for former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, as well as authorizing civil actions against them should the Justice Department refuse to prosecute. Second, we did not succumb to the White House political pressure concerning the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Yesterday's contempt vote upheld the simple Constitutional principle that no one is above the law. If an ordinary citizen could not ignore a subpoena without facing severe consequences, the same must hold true for the White House.
As the morning's papers covered this story, many of them recount the Judiciary Committee investigation that began a year ago. They talk of the fired U.S. Attorneys who testified, the thousands of pages of documents produced by the Department of Justice, and of the subpoenas ignored by the White House.
I hope that as you read those stories, you will remember that the path to today's contempt vote did not begin with just a subpoena, or a hearing, or even the firings in December, 2006. Rather, it began with the Bush Administration's politicization of Justice and its refusal to submit to congressional oversight. I commend my 232 colleagues who joined me in voting to hold the Bush White house accountable and who stood up for the rule of law.
I also want to commend the Democratic Leadership for standing up to the White House yesterday and refusing to succumb to political pressure concerning the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Last August we allowed ourselves to be jammed by the Senate and the White House. Yesterday, we stood up in the face of the pressure and let the President know that we intend to do our jobs as legislators and not hastily pass the flawed Senate bill with retroactive legal immunity for the telecommunications firms.
The White House, of course, has complained bitterly about the contempt vote as they have with many oversight actions Congress has taken. I have linked to some articles that show breadth of this bluster.
Much more remains to be done, but this week, we made real progress. With your help, we all made a difference, and the nation and our constitution are stronger for it. Thank you.
Thank you again for your continued support for a better democracy.
John Conyers, Jr.
Wow! what a roller coaster ride eh? The Senate is full of bozo-fascists while the House still seems to have it's stuff together, thank goodness!
Stay tuned for more!