House E&C Committee Votes Down Subpoena Publication Amendment

The House Energy & Commerce Committee defeated a Democratic amendment that would have modified the committee rules to require posting of subpoenas on the website within 24 hours of issuance and require consultation with the ranking member about what information should be redacted for transparency and privacy purposes from subpoenas that are made public.

Republicans opposed the amendment, which was introduced by Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and backed by ranking member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) as necessary for greater transparency, particularly consulting with the ranking member on redactions and what information was being made public.

New chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) pointed out that no other committees require online posting and that in the cases of the infrequent issuance of subpoenas by the full committee—five under former chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), they had all been made public.

The vote was the first of the new full committee, and while the meeting began with talk of the bipartisan history of the committee, it was essentially a party line vote.

Schakowsky talked about a select committee associated with E&C, whose subpoenas she and others criticized as overly broad and with unrealistic deadlines. Walden countered that the rules they were dealing with were for the full committee and that the select committee rules were separate.

Walden said the committee provides 72 hours notice when practicable, consults with the minority, and publishes subpoenas within a week of issuance, saying that is similar to other committees, except that the committee goes even farther in terms of consultation. He also promised to use the subpoena power judiciously and sparingly, and his predecessor.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.