Elijah E Cummings

House Oversight votes to hold Barr, Ross in contempt over census question
Democrats’ struggles with the administration over census have played into larger battles with White House

House Oversight Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., right, and ranking member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, conduct a markup Wednesday on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Oversight and Reform Committee voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress as Democrats argued the pair defied subpoenas in a probe of the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The 24-15 vote followed the Justice Department earlier asserting executive privilege to withhold documents sought by the committee. Democrats claim the question would suppress noncitizen participation and would be used to draw Republican-favored maps. The administration says it is needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act.

White House asserts privilege to withhold citizenship question documents
House Oversight Democrats to vote later Wednesday on contempt resolution

Attorney General Bill Barr testifies in May during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Justice Department on Wednesday asserted executive privilege over documents tied to the probe into the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 census, as the House Oversight and Reform Committee neared a vote to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt.

Chairman Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Maryland, said he would hold the vote on contempt later in the day to allow members of the panel time to read the administration's responses. Democrats claim the question would suppress noncitizen participation and be used to draw Republican-favored maps, despite the administration’s argument that it is needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Contempt votes for Barr, Ross planned next week over census citizenship question
Cummings argued that ‘rather than cooperate, they have decided that they would rather be held in contempt of Congress’

Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md.,conducts the hearing featuring Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Donald Trump, in the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 27, 2019. On Friday  Cummings said the committee will vote to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt after they missed a subpoena deadline. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House Oversight and Reform Committee plans to vote next week on holding Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt after they missed a subpoena deadline to produce documents the panel was seeking as it investigates why a question about citizenship was added to the 2020 census, Chairman Elijah E. Cummings said Friday.

The Maryland Democrat, in a statement, called the two departments’ reasons for not producing documents by Thursday “case studies in double-speak,” and said the administration has consistently resisted the panel's probe into the addition of the question to next year's census.

Justice Department pushes back against Democrats’ contempt threat over census
House Oversight panel could vote to hold Barr, Ross in contempt as early as next week

House Oversight Chairman Elijah E. Cummings could proceed with votes to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt after their refusal to comply with the panel’s document demands. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Justice Department on Thursday rejected document demands from the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee related to the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census, which could lead to votes to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress.

In a letter from Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd, the department argued that some of the documents sought by the panel, such as letters between the DOJ and Census Bureau, are protected. The deadline to submit the documents, which are being sought under a subpoena, was Thursday.

No subpoena vote over census citizenship question after officials agree to testify
Chairman Elijah E. Cummings characterized the agreement for transcribed interviews as one step forward for the inquiry

Chairman Elijah Cummings speaks with staff before the start of the House Oversight and Reform Committee markup of a resolution authorizing issuance of subpoenas related to security clearances and the 2020 Census on April 2, 2019. On Wednesday the committee canceled planned subpoena votes for three current and former Commerce Department officials Wednesday in its census citizenship question inquiry after the trio agreed to closed-door interviews. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Oversight and Reform Committee canceled planned subpoena votes for three current and former Commerce Department officials Wednesday in its census citizenship question inquiry after the trio agreed to closed-door interviews.

Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., characterized the agreement for transcribed interviews of General Counsel Peter Davidson, Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Policy Earl Comstock, and former counsel to the Commerce Secretary James Uthmeier, as one step forward for the probe.

Lawmakers fear that the FBI and TSA are misusing facial recognition tech
Law enforcement and national security agencies implementing new technology ‘without any real guard rails,’ top Democrat warns

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer instructs an international traveler to look into a camera as he uses facial recognition technology to screen a traveler entering the United States on February 27, 2018 at Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida. Both Democrats and Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform grilled leaders of the FBI and Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday about whether they are running afoul of privacy and transparency laws in their use of facial recognition software. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Both Democrats and Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform grilled leaders of the FBI and Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday about how their use of facial recognition software conflicts with transparency and privacy laws.

“This technology is evolving extremely rapidly without any real guard rails,” Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings warned in his opening statement at Tuesday’s hearing, the panel’s second in less than a month on facial recognition. “Whether we are talking about commercial use or government use, there are real concerns about the risks that this technology poses to our civil rights and liberties and our right to privacy.”

House will vote to hold Barr in contempt over Mueller report
Judiciary panel issued contempt citation last month against attorney general for ignoring subpoena

Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 8:38 p.m. | The House will vote June 11 to hold Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt of Congress, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer announced Monday.

The planned floor action follows a party-line vote in the Judiciary Committee last month on a contempt citation against Barr. The panel’s action came after the attorney general ignored its subpoena for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s full, unredacted report and underlying investigatory materials.

Barr, Ross face contempt vote over census citizenship question
AG and commerce secretary have until Thursday to answer subpoenas

House Oversight and Reform Democrats are threatening to hold Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, above, and Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Oversight and Reform Democrats threatened to vote on holding Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress, accusing the pair Monday of rebuffing investigations into the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., accused the administration of “one of the most unprecedented cover-ups since Watergate,” in a letter Monday to Barr and another to Ross. He gave them until Thursday to answer several subpoenas issued earlier this year.

Democrats pounce on citizenship question revelations
Documents show gerrymandering, not Voting Rights Act, was true motivation, Cummings alleges

People protest outside the Supreme Court in April against the Trump administration’s proposal to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee charged Thursday that new documents cited by an advocacy group show that President Donald Trump added a citizenship question to the 2020 census primarily to give Republicans the upper hand in the next round of congressional redistricting.

The documents, which allegedly show that a Republican strategist pushed the administration to include the question for partisan gain, were revealed amid months of conflict between the committee and the administration that culminated recently in the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division defying a subpoena. They also emerged as the Supreme Court nears a decision on a challenge to the citizenship question.

Bipartisan thumbs-down to facial recognition technology
Surveillance sparks comparisons to Orwellian dystopia

A Customs and Border Protection officer scans a traveler entering the United States in February 2018 at Miami International Airport. The use of facial recognition technology by the government violates the First and Fourth amendments, some lawmakers believe. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

In 2016, police officers in Baltimore used new technology to scan the faces of protesters who filled the city’s streets following the death in custody of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man. Among those whose most recognizable features may have been documented was Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Democratic chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Three years later, Cummings is still angry such surveillance was conducted without a warrant or reason to believe that he — or any other protester, for that matter — had done anything illegal. Now he’s putting the full weight of his committee’s jurisdiction behind a push to ban facial recognition technology until Congress can pass comprehensive legislation to govern its use.