Thursday, February 13, 2020

House Natural Resources gives Grijalva power to subpoena Interior

The House Natural Resources Committee voted Wednesday to give Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) the power to subpoena the Department of the Interior after Republicans scored a significant win that limited the chairman’s power. The 21-15 party-line vote represents a new chapter in the committee’s ongoing battle to gain a number of documents from Interior, as Grijalva will now be able to compel them. “This stonewalling needs to end,” Grijalva told members, saying Interior had treated the committee’s oversight authority with a “cavalier attitude.” “This committee has to establish itself as a coequal. We’re not here as house plants to be cared for and watered when the administration decides it’s time,” Grijalva said. Some of the first subpoenas that might be issued by the committee include those seeking documents on the controversial relocation of the Bureau of Land Management and those on Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s connections to former clients. But with the adoption of a hard-fought amendment from Republicans, Grijalva will have to alert ranking member Rob Bishop (R-Utah) about any subpoena he seeks, and members would be able to request a vote on subpoenas before they are issued. That may matter little to Bernhardt, who tweeted that Interior has already provided thousands of pages of documents to the committee. “Today’s action by the House Natural Resources Committee demonstrates they won’t let the facts stand in the way of their rhetoric. Going forward, the Department will take today’s action into account for every decision it makes to deal with this committee. Godspeed with the witch hunt,” he tweeted. While Interior has boasted of its good working relationship with members, the committee says the department has completed just two of its 26 requests, with the rest marked incomplete or nonresponsive. Members have expressed bipartisan irritation at delays in getting documents, including at a hearing during which monitors flashed heavily redacted documents produced by Interior...MORE

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