Republicans on the House Oversight environmental subcommittee claimed they couldn't be 'two places at once.'
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee attempted to disrupt a hearing on the effects of rolling back fuel efficiency standards on Tuesday, in what appeared to be a stunt aimed at protesting the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) made a motion to adjourn the hearing held in the Environmental subcommittee, arguing that Republicans were unable to participate in the proceedings while a hearing in the House Intelligence Committee was also underway.
Throughout the history of the Congress, members have often been part of more than one hearing at a time.
Gosar was joined on Tuesday by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who has been one of Donald Trump's most ardent defenders.
The hearing was held to discuss Trump administration efforts to stop California from holding automakers to more stringent, environmentally friendly fuel standards.
Following Gosar's motion, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) asked to comment on the proceedings.
"I would like to do my job and I try not to get out of my job at every opportunity," she said, noting that the witnesses were there "to talk about the very pressing issue of cutting our carbon emissions and saving our planet."
Ocasio-Cortez said the stunt was evidence of "an entire political party that's trying to get out of their job."
Republicans on the committee were insistent.
"I can't be two places at once," Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) said. Jordan added that the committee was bent on "continu[ing] to do hearings at the same time there are depositions going on."
Members of Congress often walk in and out of hearings as they are in process, contrary to Jordan's suggestion that they were unable to attend more than one at a time.
Meanwhile, the witnesses before the committee, former California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), were forced to wait as the back and forth proceeded.
After Gosar's motion to adjourn failed, Chairman Harley Rouda (D-CA) criticized the Republicans for stalling the hearing.
"I'm very disappointed in these antics. I have been in the SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) room for many of these witness depositions. Many of the members that are afforded the ability from this committee to go there have not been in many of those depositions," he noted.
"The fact that they seem to want to make it an issue now clearly shows they care more about process and trying to prevent the good work of this committee to do the investigative work it is obligated to do under the Constitution to protect the president at all costs instead of their duty is disappointing," Rouda continued.
He added, "The fact that we have several members here that have been to this subcommittee meeting for the first time ever is incredibly disappointing."
The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday simultaneously heard testimony from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert who indicated in his opening statement that he had raised concerns with lawyers about the legality of Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
During that call, Trump urged Zelensky to investigate 2020 election rival Joe Biden. Vindman said in his statement Tuesday that he "did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen" and was "worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine." He said he relayed those concerns to NSC counsel.
The White House subsequently tried to hide the partial transcript of Trump's call with Zelensky in a top-secret codeword system to which few people had access, according to a whistleblower complaint about the call earlier this year.
House Democrats announced an impeachment inquiry into Trump's actions with regard to Ukraine last month. Republicans for their part have sought to raise a series of complaints with the process of the impeachment inquiry, rather than focusing on the substance of Trump's actions.
Gosar's motion on Tuesday was reminiscent of an attempt last week by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to enter a secure hearing where an top Pentagon official over Ukraine policy was testifying. Several members took their cell phones with them into the SCIF during that incident, a violation of national security according to experts.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.