In Letter to Westerman, Grijalva Issues Scathing Opposition to Subpoena Threat, Warns of Devaluing Process

WASHINGTON – House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today sent a letter strongly opposing Chair Bruce Westerman’s (R-Ark.) consideration of a subpoena for U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) documents and/or testimony, as was communicated by majority staff to minority staff this week. The subpoena threat pertains to Chair Westerman’s nearly year-long investigation into Floyd Bennett Field, which has yet to uncover any evidence of wrongdoing but has been consistently highlighted during media appearances and on social media.

If issued, the subpoena would be the first in the Committee’s history wtihout a vote. Ranking Member Grijalva explains in his letter how remarkable a precedent it would be, especially given the level of obstruction displayed by the previous administration:

“When Committee Democrats gave subpoena authority to the Chair in the 116th Congress, we did so only after more than a year of unprecedented levels of obstruction from the administration of now-convicted felon Trump. We received document ‘responses’ from his Department of the Interior (DOI) that were predominantly non-responsive, duplicative, meaningless, or heavily redacted. We received completely blacked-out pages and documents consisting of nonsense symbols.”

In the letter, Ranking Member Grijalva also notes the unilateral process by which Chair Westerman is threatening to issue a subpoena, contrasting it to the process established in the Democratic-controlled 116th Congress and continued in the 117th, largely at the behest of then–Ranking Member Westerman himself:

“I will also note that when Committee Democrats considered subpoenas, we instituted binding requirements of providing the minority with extensive notice, including a copy of the proposed subpoena and production schedule, and provided a veto mechanism to safeguard against abuses by the Chair. These Republican-drafted safeguards ensured that the minority would have a seat at the table to participate in the development of any subpoena.”

Ranking Member Grijalva further explains that DHS has so far engaged in good faith negotiations to accommodate Chair Westerman’s requests, putting the subpoena — an essential tool for congressional oversight — at-risk of being devalued:

“The Biden administration has been transparent, forthcoming, and reasonable in its responses to legitimate congressional oversight requests from our Committee. And on this particular oversight effort, DHS is engaging in the accommodations process in good faith. Issuing a subpoena under these circumstances and without minority involvement would permanently damage this serious last-resort tool.”

The letter also reiterates Ranking Member Grijalva’s request for an investigation into the Federal Trade Commission’s reporting of smoking-gun evidence that former Pioneer CEO Scott Sheffield colluded with OPEC to effectively raise gas prices for the American people. Pioneer, which was recently acquired by Exxon Mobil, holds significant oil and gas leases on U.S. public lands. Chair Westerman has yet to respond to that request.

READ the full letter here.

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