The House, by a 229-191 vote, approved a resolution Tuesday that will make it easier for Democrats to bring their oversight fights with the Trump administration to court.
The resolution explicitly permits Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) to seek a court’s intervention to force former White House Counsel Don McGahn to comply with a subpoena for testimony. (It includes similar language for Attorney General Bill Barr. However, Nadler is holding off of taking any legal action against Barr in light of new deal for the Justice Department to share certain evidence from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.)
The measure additionally gives other committee chairs the power to petition a court to enforce a subpoena. By doing so, House Democrats will no longer need to hold floor votes to move forward with each and every court action they seek to enforce compliance with their subpoenas.
The move could bring an onslaught of lawsuits as Democrats grapple with an administration that has been stonewalling on nearly every oversight front since Democrats took the gavel. It also reflects a moment of unity for the Democratic caucus, which is split on the question of whether to open an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
Some lawmakers have warned that, without an impeachment inquiry, they’ll be handicapped heading into certain courtrooms. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) remains reluctant to move forward with impeachment.