Pelosi: House will vote next week to hold Barr and Ross in criminal contempt over census

The House will vote next week to hold a pair of top administration officials in criminal contempt of Congress for withholding information related to the census, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump-GOP tensions over Syria show signs of easing Democratic debate starts with immediate question on Trump impeachment White House, Pentagon, Giuliani reject House subpoenas MORE (D-Calif.) announced Thursday. 

"Next week, the full House will vote on a resolution of criminal contempt for Attorney General [William] Barr and [Commerce] Secretary [Wilbur] Ross so we can enforce our subpoenas and get the facts," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Buttigieg targets Warren, Sanders on health care ahead of debate | Judge overturns ObamaCare transgender protections | Poll sees support drop for 'Medicare for All' Hillicon Valley: Google, Reddit to testify on tech industry protections | Trump joins Amazon-owned Twitch | House to vote on bill to combat foreign interference Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Judge blocks Trump 'public charge' rule | Appeals court skeptical of Trump arguments for Medicaid work requirements | CDC offers guidance for treating vaping-related cases MORE (D-Md.) later clarified that the vote will be Tuesday.

"We will hold this Admin accountable for continued obstruction & oppose efforts to undermine the census," Hoyer tweeted.

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The House Oversight and Reform Committee had voted before the July 4 recess to hold Barr and Ross in contempt for defying the panel's subpoenas for documents surrounding President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? MORE's efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Pelosi specified Thursday that the resolution coming to the floor next week would feature criminal contempt — a step that can carry steep penalties, including heavy fines and up to a year in prison.

The move to hold top administration officials in contempt is largely symbolic, however, since there's little chance that Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys would pursue the Democrats' referrals to bring criminal charges against their own boss. But the vote will escalate the already intensifying fight over Trump's bid to include the citizenship question on the 2020 census.

The DOJ had initially claimed the question is needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act, but the argument was shot down by the Supreme Court, which called it "contrived" and invited the administration to come up with a new rationale.

On Wednesday, Trump suggested he'll take steps to add the citizenship question to the census by executive order. He's expected to speak from the White House on the issue at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Pelosi and other opponents argue that adding the citizenship question would discourage participation by immigrants, not only those in the country illegally but also those living in the country legally. The results, the critics say, could distort the population numbers — and skew the allocation of representatives in Congress — in favor of Republicans.

Pelosi on Thursday noted that several courts have issued injunctions blocking the inclusion of the citizenship question.

"We have been printing the census forms. June 30 was the deadline, so we're printing the forms. We fully expect the census to go forward," Pelosi said. "The president's effort to put the citizenship question on the census will continue to be challenged in court."

Pelosi also pointed out that Democrats are fighting for more census funding as part of the ongoing talks to lift budget caps heading into fiscal 2020.

"One of our issues in the [debate over] lifting the caps is more money for the census," she said.