I really hope that I’m not the only person who sees the irony of House Republican Minority Leader John Boehner decrying what he thinks is partisan grandstanding and responding by ordering the Republican caucus to walk out of the House on live television and go directly to the steps of the Capitol and a waiting bank of cameras for a press conference.
Think Progress has the video – judge for yourself who’s doing the grandstanding.
Regardless of any assessments about what does and does not count as grandstanding, the House passed contempt citations on Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten while the Republicans were holding their press conference. Jesse Lee at The Gavel writes:
Today, the House has just approved H.Res. 982, which provides for the adoption of H.Res. 979, recommending that the House of Representatives find Harriet Miers, former White House Counsel, and Joshua Bolten, the White House Chief of Staff, in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with subpoenas issued by the Judiciary Committee. These subpoenas were issued as part of the Committee’s investigation into the firings of a number of United States Attorneys and matters concerning the politicization of the Justice Department. This resolution also provides for adoption of H.Res. 980 – Authorizing the Committee on the Judiciary to initiate or intervene in judicial proceedings to enforce certain subpoenas.
In other words, Congress just stood up for the rule of law. The Bush administration thinks they are above it and have acted accordingly. The House has reasserted that the legislature is a co-equal branch as the executive. Actions have consequences and the law must be followed. This goes whether it’s a Democratic White House or a Republican White House — good government is strengthened by the rule of law and undermined by the rule of men. This sort of principled action has been far too long coming.
Here are a few lines that merit attention.
“The President cannot decide by decree. The President cannot announce with absolute unreviewable authority what information the Administration will provide or withhold. The framers of our Constitution had just fought a war against an autocratic king. It is inconceivable that they intended to create and executive branch with the power the Bush Administration now claims and that the minority now supports.”
“Members on both sides of the aisle should recognize the gravity of this vote. If the executive branch is allowed to simply ignore Congressional subpoenas while Congress idly stands by, we will have abdicated our role of oversight of the executive branch and undermined our system of checks and balances.”
“So when we came here, one of the things we did was to start talking about Article 1. Article 1, which established the Congress of the United States and vested all legislative powers therein. We started wearing these buttons, Article 1 buttons, and we offered them to Members of both parties hoping that this would not be a partisan issue and not be an expression of partisanship, and instead of respect for the integrity of this institution. Unfortunately, most of my colleagues on the other side chose not to wear these buttons. They’ve chosen to make this a partisan issue. In spite of the fact that during the last six years before we took control of the Congress, no subpoenas were issued against this president, no efforts to hold him accountable were made in spite of the fact that in the prior administration, 1,000 subpoenas were offered by the Republican Congress to the Democratic president.”
We need more of this in Congress. More principled leadership to defend the rule of law. More public, vocal dedication to the Constitution. More forceful opposition to the Republican obstructionism and obsequiousness of the Republican caucus to this lawless presidency. Good on the House Dems today – now just keep doing this.