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Recommending that the House Find Lois G. Lerner in Contempt of Congress

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WELCH. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman.

Mr. Speaker, there is a reason that the American people hold the Congress of the United States in such lowest esteem. We are providing them with some additional basis to have that opinion, and this here is what it is.

Number one, this was an important investigation. We should do it. We should do it energetically, and we should do it together. Instead, information was constantly withheld from the minority.

Our own ranking member was cut off with really quite a bold gesture by the chairman at a certain point; and it created an impression that it was going to be a one-sided affair, rather than a balanced, cooperative approach. That is essential to having any credibility.

The second thing is: What do we do about Lois Lerner who took the Fifth? We have a debate about whether the manner in which she did that caused her to waive that Fifth Amendment privilege. That is a fair and square question.

Your side thinks she waived it and, therefore, should be held in contempt. Our side--and I think we have the weight of legal opinion--said she didn't waive it; but you know what, that is a legal question, and there is a document called the Constitution that separates the powers.

Whether this person crossed the line or didn't is a legal determination to be made by judges, not by a vote of Congress. Since when did Congress get to vote on judicial issues?

If we want this to be resolved in a way that has any credibility, it should be decided by the courts. Send this to the courts. Let the judges decide whether this was a waiver or it wasn't; but the idea that a Congress--this time run by Republicans, next time run by Democrats--can have a vote to make a legal determination about the rights of a citizen is in complete conflict with the separation of powers in our Constitution.

Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Vermont in advance for his ``yes'' vote on this because the only way to send this to the court to be decided is to vote ``yes.'' In fact, we are not trying Lois Lerner. We are determining that she should be tried. The question should be before a Federal judge.

With that, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Wyoming (Mrs. Lummis), a member of the committee.


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