Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Major Plame Exclusive: House Democrats to introduce Resolution of Inquiry on Rove tomorrow morning....

House Democrats tomorrow morning will introduce a formal resolution of inquiry demanding that the Bush administration turn over information and documents relating to Karl Rove and the Valerie Plame affair, according to congressional sources.

Among the members who will be calling for the inquiry are such prominent Democratic Represenatives as Henry Waxman, the ranking minority member of the House Government Reform Committee; Tom Lantos, of California; Leonard Boswell, of Iowa; Anna G. Eshoo, of California; Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland; and Silvestre Reyes, of Texas.

The resolution effort was spareheaded by Rep. Rush Holt, of New Jersey, who is a senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Most importantly, according to one key congressional source, the effort "has the blessing of the Democratic leadership." House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi has signed on to support the effort, sources said.

The resolution of inquiry will seek documents related to the Plame matter from the State, Defense, and Justice Departments, as well as other executive branch agencies. A spokesman for the White House did not return a telephone call tonight seeking comment.

Here are excerpts from a background paper, explaining "resolutions of inquiries", circulating to congressional staff tonight:

A resolution of inquiry "is a simple resolution making a direct request or demand of the President or the head of an executive department to furnished House of Representatives with specific factual information in the possession of the executive branch.
Under House Rule XIII, clause 7, a Member may address a resolution of inquiry "to the head of an executive department."
Resolutions of inquiry have been traditionally directed to the President or to a particular cabinet officer. Under a rule change made by the Republicans at the beginning of this Congress, the Speaker of the House decides as to which committees it will be referred, at which time the Chairman of each Committee on his/her own (or in consultation with the Ranking member) must decide how each Committee will act within the required 14 legislative days.

A resolution of inquiry is usually referred to the committee that has jurisdiction over the subject matter, but on a number of occasions two or more committees have been involved in responding to a resolution of inquiry.

After the resolution of inquiry has been introduced and referred to a particular committee, the committee sends the resolution to the Administration for action, requesting a timely response to allow the committee to act within the deadline for a committee report.
The committee then has a variety of options once a resolution of inquiry is referred to it. The committee may hold an up-or-down vote on the resolution, or amend it. It can report favorably or adversely, but an "adverse report" is often times also accompanied by a substantial amount of information prepared by the executive branch.
The quality and quantity of this information can bring the Administration into compliance with the resolution, making further congressional action unnecessary. Usually, a committee issues a report on a resolution of inquiry. If it doesn't, the resolution can then be discharged.
Unlike a normal bill or resolution, the referred committee or committees must report to the House on the resolution, either favorably or adversely, within 14 legislative days of introduction, exclusive of the day of introduction and the day of discharge. If the referred committee does not report the resolution back to the House within 14 legislative days, a Member of the House may raise a motion to discharge the committee from further consideration of the resolution at which point the resolution goes to the House Floor for a vote.

Some additional analysis: One of the things to watch for as the vote proceeds is whether any Republicans break ranks with their party and vote in favor of the resolution. As Dan Froomkin observed earlier today regarding the tepid support for Rove amongst congerssional Republicans: "An awful lot of senior members of Bush's party are sitting this out for now."

One of the reasons that Republican National Committtee Ken Mehlman has been making the rounds of the cable circuit to defend Rove is because so few Republican members of Congress have volunteered to do so.

No comments: