Committee News is a weekly roundup of congressional investigations, hearings and other activities.
A committee can examine a wide variety of topics, including how the federal government spends its money, the impact of legislative actions on the economy and the environment, and whether elected officials are upholding their constitutional duties. Some committees may investigate a particular issue for years before producing a report, which is then considered by the full House or Senate. Once a report is approved, it becomes law and is numbered as a House bill. It is a good idea to read the entire text of any proposed bill before voting on it.
Congressional committees often operate on a formal schedule, which is listed on the House website. A typical committee meets at least once a week, but larger panels meet more frequently. Committee meetings are often open to the public and use a strict version of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, though some follow more informal procedures. Regardless of the level of formality, most committees consider sensitive information and are required to sign confidentiality agreements when they take on new cases.
The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riots has taken in vast amounts of information, interviewing 300 witnesses, issuing 50 subpoenas and obtaining 35,000 pages of records. Despite the avalanche of data, the panel’s leaders say it is still early in the investigation and they have a long way to go. The panel plans to hold a series of public hearings this winter and spring and may release an interim report before the midterm elections in November.
The panel is also expected to keep pursuing cooperation from Republican lawmakers who communicated with the White House on Jan. 6. The committee has already asked two GOP members to appear before it for depositions, but both have signaled they will invoke their Fifth Amendment protection against self incrimination.
As the committee continues to sift through the trove of evidence, its chair, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, says he sees a clear path to impeachment of President Trump. But some members of the panel are at career crossroads, with two leaving Congress after this year and others facing difficult reelection campaigns. Some are eyeing leadership positions and one is weighing a 2024 presidential bid.
In a summary of its findings released last week, the panel said it has found “credible evidence that the former President committed numerous crimes” in his efforts to undermine democracy. It pointed to “extensive and egregious” schemes, including using the Justice Department to overturn election results, that it believes violated several federal laws.
The panel highlighted the work of two senior Trump appointees, Ken Klukowski and Jeffrey Clark, who it says weaponized their departments to try to help Trump overturn his electoral defeat. In the case of Clark, the panel wrote, he drafted a letter to election administrators in battleground states that was designed to contradict specific Justice Department findings on voter fraud and insert the department into the presidential election, a violation of federal law.