Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is refusing to appear before House and Senate committees after he was caught lying in his last appearance.
After being called out for his racist and unconstitutional scheme to rig the 2020 Census, Trump Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is hiding from Congress.
On Tuesday, Ross announced his refusal to testify before the House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations subcommittee, the second time in as many weeks Ross has refused to testify in front of lawmakers. Ross was scheduled to appear before the panel on Wednesday to discuss the Commerce Department's 2020 budget request.
"The Secretary's decision flies in the face of transparency, good governance, and the traditions that ensure accountability within the appropriations process," Rep. José Serrano (D-NY), chair of the subcommittee, said in a Tuesday statement.
In late March, Ross refused to appear before the Senate Appropriations Committee to discuss the 2020 budget, sending a lower-level staffer in his stead. At the time, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the top Democrat on the Committee, lambasted Ross's decision.
"You serve the American people, and part of your job is to be accountable to Congress and the American people," Leahy said in a statement. "What do you have to hide?"
While the hearings were scheduled to discuss the budget, Ross would likely have faced questions about the most recent scandal during his tenure as commerce secretary: his racist attempt to intimidate undocumented immigrants out of participating in the 2020 Census.
Ross is trying to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census — even though such a question has not been included since the 1950s, and even though Ross' own department had ample evidence showing such a question would decrease responses from Latinx respondents and undocumented immigrant communities.
This would result in an inaccurate census, which could mean less federal aid and reduced representation in Congress for communities that are undercounted.
In early March, a federal judge ruled that when Ross tried to add the citizenship question, he violated not only existing law but also the Constitution itself. It was the second time a federal judge ruled Ross's attempt to rig the Census was unlawful.
Ross has already lied to Congress about his involvement in the Census question. In previous testimony, Ross said he added the question "solely" at the request of the Department of Justice. But subsequent evidence showed that Ross himself was involved in the plot to intimidate certain communities.
His behavior outraged some members of Congress.
"Mr. Secretary, you lied to Congress, you misled the American people, and you are complicit in the Trump administration's intent to suppress the growing political power of the non-white population," Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO) told Ross during a mid-March congressional hearing. Clay added that he thought Ross should resign.
Rather than appear before Congress and answer questions, Ross is refusing to show his face.
But he can't hide forever.
On Tuesday, the House Oversight Committee approved subpoenas to compel Ross to both testify and hand over documents related to the Census question.
The committee "is trying to determine the real reason Secretary Ross added the citizenship question, and the documents and testimony covered by these subpoenas are critical to answering that question," Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), said before the vote to authorize the subpoenas.
One way or another, Congress will expose the truth of what Wilbur Ross did and why he did it.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.