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Democrats Unsuccessfully Try to Authorize Subpoena in Latest Attempt to Discredit Supreme Court

WASHINGTON – The Democrats tried, but were unsuccessful in their attempt to issue a subpoena because they did not follow committee rules and violated the Senate Standing Rules. Further, Senate Rule 26(7)(a)(3)—which normally waives or “cures” committee rules violations for reported measures like nominations and legislation—does not apply to purely internal committee matters, including votes to authorize subpoenas.

Below is a summary of the events:

  1. Chairman Durbin cut off debate and the offering of amendments by immediately ordering a roll call vote to authorize the subpoena (contrary to an earlier statement to Ranking Member Graham).
  2. Ranking Member Graham objected, and demanded a roll call vote on the decision to end debate, which he is entitled to request under Committee Rule IV.
  3. In response to Ranking Member Graham’s objection, Chairman Durbin moved to suspend Committee Rule IV—he later clarified that this was a motion to end debate.
  4. A roll call vote was held on the motion to end debate. The motion failed under Committee Rule IV, because no Republican voted in favor of the motion as required. The clock struck noon.
  5. Chairman Durbin then ordered a roll call vote to authorize the subpoena. His calling the vote violated Committee Rule IV because the motion to end debate failed.
  6. Ranking Member Graham attempted to make a point of order regarding the rule violation, but Chairman Durbin refused to entertain his point of order.
  7. The clerk called the roll, with no Republicans present.
  8. During the roll call vote, because no Republicans were present, the Committee lacked a quorum to transact business as required by Committee Rule III. Committee Rule III requires two members of minority for a quorum.
  9. The roll call vote on the subpoenas happened after 12:00 p.m. when the two hour rule was invoked. This violated the Senate Standing Rule 26 (5)(a).

What does this mean?  Chairman Durbin prevented the Republican Members from discussing or offering amendments in violation of committee rules.  When Ranking Member Graham challenged this, Chairman Durbin refused to allow the challenge, and proceeded to the vote.  Without a quorum needed under the committee rules, and after the two hours for committee activity permitted under the Senate Rules had elapsed, Chairman Durbin proceeded with an illegitimate vote on the subpoena.  Since the subpoena is an internal committee matter, it cannot be “cured” by the “cleansing clause” in Rule 26 of the Standing Rules of the Senate.