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Congress Should Subpoena Redfield; Enforce with Inherent Contempt Fines and Criminal Prosecution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 23, 2020 10:00am

Quotes from GGN President Bill Murphy:

Murphy: “Congress should compel CDC Director Redfield to testify on school re-opening issues by invoking its inherent contempt powers to punish any further refusal with heavy personal fines of up to $250,000 and independent criminal prosecutions by congressionally-appointed attorneys.”

Murphy: “Congress should not tolerate the White House’s refusal to allow CDC Director Robert Redfield to testify at a House Education and Labor Committee hearing on school re-opening today. This obstruction threatens to undermine policy making on an issue of vital national importance and prevents Congress from performing its constitutionally-mandated legislative duties.”


Washington, DC – Advocacy group Good Government Now (GGN) said Congress should not tolerate the White House’s refusal to allow CDC Director Robert Redfield to testify at a House Education and Labor Committee hearing on school re-opening today and urged the House to invoke its inherent contempt powers to compel Redfield to appear.

GGN President Dr. William J. Murphy said, “Congress can’t allow executive branch officials to prevent it from fulfilling its constitutionally-mandated legislative responsibilities by refusing to appear for testimony.  The refusal of the White House to permit CDC Director Redfield’s testimony about school re-opening is yet another example of increasing executive branch defiance of legitimate legislative demands for information that is undermining the effectiveness of Congress.  This matter is of urgent concern because Congress is considering appropriations to help schools with the financial burdens of re-opening safely during the COVID-19 pandemic and has oversight responsibility for related federal policies.”

“Congress should compel defiant administration witnesses to testify by invoking its inherent contempt powers to punish their obstruction with heavy personal fines and criminal prosecutions by congressionally appointed lawyers,” Murphy said. “The House clearly possesses these awesome enforcement powers but has repeatedly and unacceptably failed to employ them in the face of egregious disrespect for its authority by the executive branch that has depreciated its enforcement power to an all-time historical low.”

“The Inherent Contempt Resolution introduced in the House by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) in June offers a promising way forward in that it provides for fines up to $100,000 for contempt of Congress.  This proposal directly and effectively addresses the root cause of declining congressional enforcement authority by restoring a credible threat of significant personal punishment for those who defy congressional subpoenas,” Murphy continued.

“The House and Senate should also consider imposing fines up to $250,000 if necessary as well as supplementing this enhanced monetary penalty with independent criminal prosecutions of persistently recalcitrant witnesses by congressionally-appointed attorneys that could impose an additional $100,000 in criminal fines and up to one year in prison in the event the inherent contempt fines alone are insufficient to motivate compliance with a subpoena,” Murphy said.

“Both houses of Congress should adopt a policy of issuing subpoenas as soon as a witness declines to appear for testimony and immediately moving to enforce these subpoenas with inherent contempt fines and criminal prosecutions.  Decisive action is urgently necessary to re-establish congressional investigative authority. The House Education and Labor Committee should start this process by subpoenaing CDC Director Redfield and initiating the inherent contempt process if he refuses to comply,” Murphy concluded.

Bill Murphy is available for interviews and comment at (610) 529-6494 or wmurphy@goodgovernmentnow.org

More information about Good Government Now’s subpoena enforcement proposals are available on our website at: Inherent Contempt Fines Rule or

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