House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Wednesday that the full Democratically-controlled House likely won’t schedule votes to hold Attorney General William Barr or possibly others in contempt of Congress before the Memorial Day recess.
“I don’t anticipate it to be done this month,” the Maryland congressman who is the No. 2 Democratic leader in the chamber told reporters. “We only have one week left.”
The House Judiciary Committee voted last week to hold Barr in contempt for not providing Congress with the full, unredacted report from special counsel Robert Mueller. Following the committee vote, the full House could now vote to hold Barr in contempt, and some high-profile Democrats have suggested voting on one package of contempt citations if there are multiple individuals whom the chamber wants to hold in contempt, though so far Barr is the only one who had been voted out of committee.
As for whether he’d support inherent contempt – such as jailing or fining those who don’t comply with subpoenas under Congress’ long-dormant inherent contempt powers, which some rank-and-file Democrats have called for – Hoyer said the House will “follow the legal procedures that we think are appropriate,” referring to the courts. He said he hopes the courts will accelerate the process given the nature of the situation.
But, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he seemed to rule out inherent contempt.
“I don’t think we’re going to jail people and put them in the basement,” he said, later arguing that Congress is “somewhat limited” in its ability to carry out inherent contempt, even though it has that authority.
Hoyer also elaborated on their reasoning behind wanting to package contempt votes together.
“We don’t want to do it just individually, you know, Individual A, Individual B, Individual C. We want to confront this refusal by the administration to cooperate with the constitutional mandate that the Congress has oversight,” he said. “So we’re discussing that, and we haven’t made that decision yet. And we haven’t gotten all the catalogs yet in terms of how many specific refusals there have been, and rather than try to deal with each one of them individually, we may deal with them collectively.”
The House recesses for a week at the end of May and returns to Washington on June 3.