Republicans move to end car emissions hearing early due to impeachment proceedings

Republicans move to end car emissions hearing early due to impeachment proceedings
© Greg Nash

Republicans and Democrats clashed during an Oversight and Reform subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, after GOP lawmakers argued the proceeding conflicted with ongoing impeachment depositions and moved to dismiss.

“We have to be in a deposition on this unfair, partisan impeachment process you are running,” Rep. Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarRepublicans criticize Pelosi for gifting pens used to sign impeachment articles Overnight Energy: Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel | GOP lawmakers push back on bill to make greener refrigerators, air conditioners | Green groups sue Trump over California fracking plans Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel MORE (R-Ariz.) said.

In his opening statement, ranking member James ComerJames (Jamie) R. ComerThe biggest political upsets of the decade New hemp trade group presses lawmakers on immigration reform, regs Kentucky Senate president: Bevin should concede if recanvass confirms results MORE (R-Ky.) criticized Democrats for scheduling hearings during the ongoing impeachment proceedings.

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“The majority is creating a difficult scheduling conflict for members of this subcommittee. On one hand, we have today’s hearing, on the other we have a deposition related to the majority's impeachment of the president,” he said.

“I believe the Democrats' impeachment inquiry needs our members' attention, and I hope going forward we can agree to avoid this type of scheduling conflict.”

The call to adjourn was the second time Republicans had used such a tactic to end a hearing due to low attendance. Republicans in February successfully prematurely concluded a Natural Resources Committee hearing on climate change after only two Democrats were in attendance. Democratic lawmakers at the time called the move a stunt.

The purpose of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Environment hearing on environment was to discuss the Trump administration’s changes to federal car emissions standards. Former California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) was on hand as one of the key witnesses set to testify.

The hearing was occurring simultaneously with an impeachment deposition of White House official Alexander Vindman. Not all House lawmakers are eligible to sit in the secure room where the impeachment depositions are taking place. 

At the time of Gosar’s request for a roll call vote, only four Democrats were attending the hearing. Democrats delayed the vote by nearly 25 minutes. 

"We have an entire political party that’s trying to get out of their job and adjourn this hearing," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezAyanna Pressley's 'squad' of congresswomen offers support after she opens up about alopecia Here are the 10 senators who voted against Trump's North American trade deal Artist paints Michelle Obama, other women as battered in campaign against domestic violence MORE (D-N.Y.) said of Republicans during the proceedings.

The final vote had six lawmakers in favor of dismissing the hearing and seven against.

“I have to say I’m very disappointed in these antics. I have been in the [sensitive compartmented information facility] room for many of these witness depositions. Many of the members who have been afforded the ability to go there, have not been in many of those depositions,” said Rep. Harley RoudaHarley Edwin RoudaHouse Democrats launch effort to register minority voters in key districts Local infrastructure projects must embrace open competition The most expensive congressional races of the last decade MORE (D-Calif.) chairman of the subcommittee, following the vote.

“The fact that they seem to want to make it an issue now clearly shows they care more about the process, and trying to prevent the good work of this committee to do the investigative work its obligated to do under the Constitution, [in order] to protect the president at all costs instead of doing their duty, is disappointing."

Witnesses finally gave their opening statements more than 35 minutes into the hearing’s start.