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 GosarWhite House calls Democratic witness's mentioning of president's youngest son 'classless' Sen. John Kennedy: Americans 'deserve some answers' on Epstein's death Gosar leaves message in tweets: 'Epstein didn't kill himself' MORE (R-Ariz.) said.

In his opening statement, ranking member James ComerJames (Jamie) R. ComerNew hemp trade group presses lawmakers on immigration reform, regs Kentucky Senate president: Bevin should concede if recanvass confirms results Overnight Energy: Jerry Brown testifies on emissions fight | Brown presses climate action: 'Impeachment is important, but the climate is even more important' | Dems look to protect Grand Canyon from drilling 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-CortezDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez to hold campaign rallies in Los Angeles, Las Vegas Overwhelming majority say social media companies have too much influence: poll 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 RoudaDemocrats reach cusp of impeachment Overnight Energy: Dems unveil first bill toward goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 | Oversight panel asks EPA for plans on 'forever chemicals' | EPA finalizes rule easing chemical plant safety regulations Oversight Democrats ask EPA to turn over plans for regulating toxic 'forever chemicals' 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.