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ICYMI: Committee Republicans Vote Down Rules to Hold Trump Administration Accountable

When the House Financial Services Committee met for the first time in the 115th Congress to consider its rules, Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) led Democrats in trying to force Committee Republicans to hold the Trump Administration accountable. Throughout the markup, Financial Services Democrats offered an array of amendments aimed to increase transparency and accountability and prevent conflicts of interest. Not surprisingly, all of these amendments were opposed by Republican Members.

Committee Republicans voted against the following amendments:

  • An amendment by Ranking Member Waters to create a task force to investigate conflicts of interest in the Trump administration.
  • An amendment by Rep. Foster to take away the Chair’s unilateral subpoena power and instead require consultation with the Ranking Member in deciding whether to authorize and issue subpoenas, and, if they cannot agree, to require the Committee to decide by vote..
  • An amendment by Rep. Kildee to require that a notice be posted on the Committee’s website each time a subpoena is issued. The amendment stipulated that the Chair and Ranking Member should consult prior to publication of the notice on any redactions necessary to protect the reputation and privacy of those subpoenaed.
  • An amendment by Rep. Beatty to require all hearing witnesses to be sworn in prior to testifying.
  • An amendment by Rep. Green to require Member attendance at depositions scheduled during times the House is in recess, unless the witness to be deposed waived the requirement.
  • An amendment by Ranking Member Waters to require that all Committee bills contain a certification that they do not benefit a creditor listed in the President’s tax returns.
  • An amendment by Rep. Green to require that the Chairman provide the Ranking Member with 5 business days’ notice in advance of issuing a subpoena. Right now, the Ranking Member only receives 48-hours’ notice.
  • An amendment by Ranking Member Waters to prohibit the use of Committee funds to benefit President Trump or a company owned by him. The amendment was designed to prevent the Committee from holding events at Trump properties, thereby creating additional conflicts of interests for the President and Committee Members.
  • An amendment by Ranking Member Waters to require all hearing witnesses to disclose their sources of income and affiliations to improve transparency and promote credible testimony.
  • An amendment by Ranking Member Waters to prohibit Committee staff from signing non-disclosure agreements such as those entered into by Republican staff on the Judiciary Committee as they drafted Trump’s controversial travel ban.
  • An amendment to require the Majority to notify and invite Minority staff to attend any unrecorded interview held in lieu of a previously requested or scheduled transcribed interview or deposition, such as the unrecorded interviews Majority staff held with four top Wells Fargo executives to accommodate Wells Fargo’s request to circumvent having to testify before Minority staff.

During the markup, Financial Services Committee Democrats spoke forcefully about the need for transparency and the importance of holding the new administration accountable.

On the Kildee amendment to bring transparency to the Committee’s subpoena process by posting notices online with necessary redactions:

“We work for the public, they have a right to understand what we are doing and while we might not agree either on the subject of these investigations or the need of subpoena or even the conclusions we might draw from them, clearly, the public has a right to know what the Committee is engaged in.”

- Rep. Kildee

“Let's be honest, your side is not going to be issuing many subpoenas to this administration. We know that. So what are we fighting about?... I know there won’t be many because I’m dying to see the first time you guys issue a subpoena to the Secretary of the Treasury.”

- Rep. Capuano

On the Foster amendment to end the Chairman’s unilateral subpoena power:

“The requirement to hold a vote is very important to the transparency of the people’s house. The power to issue a subpoena unilaterally has led to more subpoenas being issued with less visibility and no opportunity for debate on their merits …. I urge my colleagues in the majority in this congress to return to the tradition of transparency and open debate that they included in the rules of the 112th and 113th Congress’.”

- Rep. Foster

On the Beatty amendment to require all witnesses to be sworn in prior to testifying:

“Most troubling to me and most relevant to the by work of this Committee was the inaccurate testimony, whether it was purposely given or by accident, the nominee for Treasury Secretary in his response to the Senate Finance Committee regarding his banks’ use of questionable practices of robo-signing. My hometown paper, The Dispatch, published an article this past Sunday entitled “Trump’s Treasury Pick Mnuchin Misled the Senate on Foreclosures Ohio Cases Show.” The first line of this article shows that President of the United States Trump’s nominee for Treasury Secretary was untruthful to the Senate during the confirmation process, documents uncovered by The Dispatch show…This amendment is needed to remind witnesses they have a responsibility to be forthright and truthful in their communications to this committee, our constituents are counting on us and the American people deserve no less.”

- Rep. Beatty

On the Waters amendment to prohibit the Committee from reporting bills that might benefit President Trump:

“I understand that the Chairman doesn’t want to talk about this, and doesn’t want to have to bring it to people’s attention that there could be a myriad of conflicts of interest within this Administration, but to try to minimize it by saying it’s nothing but partisan rancor is ridiculous”

- Rep. Perlmutter

“With this amendment we won’t allow financial benefits to be reaped by the President when there might be a conflict of interest. It is pretty simple and pretty straight forward.”

- Rep. Green

On the Waters amendment to increase transparency by requiring Committee witnesses to divulge who might be influencing their testimony:

“The American people deserve to know if people testifying before Congress are speaking for themselves, or if they’re speaking for deep-pocketed special interests that use academics and think tanks as front-groups to push a deregulatory agenda.”

- Rep. Waters


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