Democrats Slam Agency Refusal to Provide Trump Hotel RecordsBy
Minority oversight members say 1928 law gives them authority
Justice Department argues that only chairmen have oversight
Congressional Democrats took aim at the General Services Agency on Monday, saying the agency has failed to honor their requests for information related to Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., which is located in a federally-owned building.
The 18 Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said the GSA, which oversees federal buildings, was required to hand over the documents they requested under the “Seven Member Rule,” a 1928 law they argued enables any seven members of the oversight panel to demand documents from any executive agency.
The Justice Department asserted in May that the chairmen of the committees -- who are Republicans, reflecting the current majority party in Congress -- have constitutional authority to conduct oversight, while the minority party does not.
In the letter, the Democrats renewed their February request for documents pertaining to the Trump hotel lease. They also asked for additional documents pertaining to the GSA’s determination that President Donald Trump was not in violation of a provision of his lease that bars elected officials from acting as tenants.
“Although you may wish to limit oversight from Democratic Members of Congress through a misguided policy that responds only to Republican Chairmen, compliance with federal law is not an optional exercise that may be overridden by a new Trump Administration policy,” the letter said.
GSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman said in March that the agency "has responded, consistent with the law, to Congressional requests for documents and information."
The courts’ interpretation of the law has been divided. In 2002, Democratic members of the oversight committee sued the administration of President George W. Bush for documents related to the census. A U.S. court in California found in favor of the Democrats and upheld the seven-member rule. Four years later, the Democrats filed a similar lawsuit in the same court -- a different judge ruled that they didn’t have standing to sue to enforce the rule.