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Congressional Investigations

The House of Representatives formally established the new “Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party,” with a bipartisan vote of 365-65. The Select Committee, to be chaired by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), a former military intelligence officer who also serves on the House Intelligence Committee, has been

Congressional investigations thrive in divided government.  With a constrained ability to advance policy through legislation, Members are more likely to turn to investigations as a means of making headlines and affecting private sector practices. 

The Democratic Senate majority and the Republican House majority give the respective majorities the ability to control the agenda of each chamber, and likely virtually unfettered subpoena power.  Democrats will preside over all Senate committees and have control of the Senate agenda.  Likewise, Republicans will preside over all House committees and have control of the House agenda.  Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the Republican Conference nominee for Speaker of the House, recently released a sweeping Oversight plan for “Oversight in the 118th Congress,” which is discussed below.

Congressional investigations have been on the rise generally in the past several years, and all signs indicate that investigations in the 118th Congress will be prolific and particularly challenging, especially for the companies, industries, and individuals that are a central focus of GOP critiques.  As part of these investigations, incoming House Republican committee chairs will possess virtually unchecked power to issue subpoenas, demand documents, call hearings, and compel witnesses to testify.

Congressional investigators have a large toolkit.  There are a number of ways Congress can exert pressure on companies and individuals, and this has expanded in recent years.  In the new Congress, recent developments in congressional investigations will be precedent-setting for newly empowered House GOP committees, who likely will look to the tactics and techniques that the current Democratic-led committees employed in the past few years for creative investigative ideas.  For example, many Americans watched the January 6th Select Committee hearings and that Committee’s effective use of videotaped deposition testimony.  In the future, we anticipate that more committees will use videotaped depositions, both to put additional pressure on witnesses and to generate additional headlines. 

Continue Reading Congressional Investigations in the 118th Congress

Yesterday, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol filed a highly consequential brief in ongoing litigation relating to a subpoena seeking documents involving attorney John Eastman’s alleged participation in efforts to thwart Congress’s certification of the results of the 2020 Presidential election.  Not surprisingly, the Select Committee’s

Back to Square One in the Courts

Historically, investigators on Capitol Hill have relied on civil enforcement proceedings to enforce their subpoenas and compel the production of sought-after documents or testimony.  As we detailed in November, however, the D.C. Circuit cast doubt on the ability of investigators in the House to pursue this common avenue for enforcing its subpoenas.
Continue Reading Recent Developments Shed Further Light on Congressional Subpoena Authority

Financial institutions are consistently targets of congressional oversight interest. In the last Congress, House and Senate committees held hearings with, demanded documents from, requested interviews with, and hosted briefings from a number of bank and non-bank financial institutions regarding a variety of issues. In a recent client alert, we looked at recent trends in

Recently, the Senate adopted a power-sharing agreement providing some contours for organizing the equally divided body.  As we have discussed previously, such agreements are very rarely needed.  The Senate has only faced a 50-50 partisan split a handful of times.  The most recent instance, in 2001, prompted the first power-sharing agreement, which served as a

In recent months, we have highlighted key developments on Capitol Hill and discussed the implications of the change in Administration on the pace and focus of congressional investigations.  With a Democratic majority now in both the House and the Senate, investigations targeting the private sector are primed to take center stage in the new Congress.

As the calendar turns from 2020 to 2021, we are taking stock of congressional investigations over the past two years, and assessing events in the recent weeks that help to shed light on the likely trajectory for congressional investigations in 2021.

  • In late October, we considered congressional investigations in the context of the upcoming election.

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