Sen. Tom Carper joined 17 of his Democratic colleagues in a letter to President Donald Trump demanding he immediately clarify reports that the White House instructed some federal agencies to withhold information from Congressional Democrats.
The Senate Democrats also note that, while some agencies have responded to a limited number of Congressional requests for information, most have gone unanswered. The senators stated that any intentional attempts to obstruct transparency, accountability and information flow within the federal government on a partisan basis would be completely unacceptable and argued that withholding information severely inhibits Congress’ constitutional ability to legislate and conduct oversight.
“Congress has a constitutional obligation to conduct oversight, and the Supreme Court has long recognized the need for the legislative branch to obtain information from the executive branch,” the senators wrote. “The court has stated that ‘[t]he scope of [Congress'] power of inquiry...is as penetrating and far-reaching as the potential power to enact and appropriate under the Constitution’ and this power ‘encompasses inquiries concerning the administration of existing laws as well as proposed or possibly needed statutes.’”
“When Congress raises legitimate questions, the response of any administration should be to provide answers that ensure the confidence of the American people — not to obstruct congressional effort to promote transparency, accountability and good governance,” the senators continued. “Federal agencies should generally provide information voluntarily in response to congressional requests, especially if these agencies would be required to provide the same information to the general public if requested under the Freedom of Information Act.”
The full text of the letter is available at bit.ly/2qILY8h.