Natural Resources Committee Republicans Request More Transparency in Partisan “Hearings”

June 16, 2020
Press Release

Today, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) led Natural Resources Committee Republicans in a letter to Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), asking that committee Democrats cease holding partisan “forums” or “roundtables” with no minority involvement. In part, the members wrote:

“These meetings, which have taken place without minority involvement, are strictly partisan in nature.  With titles such as ‘Behind the Curtain: The Trump Administration's Fossil Fuel Agenda During the Pandemic,’ minority members and staff have not been given the opportunity to participate in the planning or execution of these meetings, much less offer a witness or prepare members.

“However, it is not merely the partisanship or minority omission that we take issue with, but the way these meetings have been portrayed to the American public. By utilizing the same methodology and distribution as official committee business, these partisan meetings are portrayed as official committee business.”

Read the full letter here.

Member Statements

“Committee work depends on both parties working together to accomplish shared goals. Not only are Chairman Grijalva’s partisan roundtables – cleverly disguised as official committee business – violations of the majority’s own committee rules, but they’re also a disservice to the American people by only giving them one side of the story. I’m grateful to my Republican colleagues who joined me in asking for equal representation in all committee business. Congressional committees must spend more time working together to solve problems, not wasting taxpayer resources on misleading forums.” – U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)

“As former Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, I know first-hand what it takes to conduct committee business productively and transparently. Unfortunately, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, members of the Committee’s Democrat majority have overseen a confusing and overly-partisan hearing process. By holding virtual ‘forums’ and ‘roundtables’ without distinguishing them from an actual hearing, Chairman Grijalva and Committee Democrats have created a process that is not only misleading, but violates the very rules they themselves agreed to last year. I want to return to regular, in-person committee business as soon as possible. In the meantime, I enthusiastically join my colleagues in calling on Chairman Grijalva to cease using committee broadcast systems for his own one-sided partisan interests.” U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)

“Throughout this Congress, Democrats have blatantly ignored not only precedence but also Committee rules. Their latest virtual ‘forums’ are nothing but partisan driven charades. It is wrong to purposefully mislead the American people in order to score political points.” – U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.)

“During this pandemic, essential workers all across Virginia’s First Congressional District are showing up to work to provide services to the public. I believe it is time for Congress to show up for the American people. Holding unofficial ‘forums’ or ‘roundtables’ with no minority input is not helping solve America’s problems. These actions, and subsequent publicization on committee platforms, mislead the public as to this committee’s authority and cooperation. I hope we can find a way to operate in a bipartisan manner going forward.” – U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.)

“After ramming through Congress radical partisan rule changes, the Natural Resources Committee Majority continues the reckless unconstitutional process of presenting partisan forums – campaign events billed as forums – under the banner of official committee work.  Chairman Grijalva continues to exploit these unique circumstances to use Committee resources to bypass minority member rights and circumvent the normal legislative process. The Committee resources should be used for actual Committee business, and there is a tremendous backlog of work neglected by the Majority since this crisis has started.  We should get to work, not continue these partisan charades.”U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.)

“The Resources Committee hearing last week could not have been more of a disaster. The hearing provided clear evidence on why proxy voting and virtual participation as designed by Speaker Pelosi is fatally flawed. A vote outcome was changed as a result of efforts to have ‘virtual participation.’  This threatens the ability of Americans to be represented as intended in the Constitution. If grocery stores and tattoo parlors can be open, I would certainly consider the work of the people’s house to be essential as well.” – U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.)

“Chairman Grijalva is manipulating the coronavirus pandemic to turn the House Natural Resources Committee into his own partisan political machine. Chairman Grijalva is hosting virtual ‘forums’ that are disguised as official committee hearings – except, unlike real hearings, these charades intentionally block any Republican participation. This is completely unacceptable. If the Chairman refuses to allow the committee to conduct its business in Washington, the least he could do is institute some degree of fairness to the committee’s virtual proceedings.”U.S. Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.)

“I am disappointed that Chairman Grijalva is choosing to play politics and use committee resources to broadcast partisan events. Particularly during these unprecedented times, Americans expect their elected leaders to work together and find bipartisan solutions. I hope my Democrat colleagues will return to regular committee order and official hearings that allow bipartisan discussion and debate on important issues.”U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.)

"Sadly, Chairman Grijalva has seized upon the coronavirus pandemic to conduct partisan 'forums' under the guise of official committee business. These forums have been allowed to proceed without any input or participation from the minority, and the chairman has represented them as official business on the committee website and social media accounts. I thank Bruce Westerman for leading on this issue, and I am hopeful the chairman will act on our request." – U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.)

“As Members of Congress, it is our duty to solve problems by working across the aisle and not just to advance partisan talking points. I am hopeful that Chairman Grijalva takes our concerns seriously and will discontinue the use of taxpayer-funded committee resources for forums that don’t allow dissenting views.”U.S. Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah)

“These virtual ‘forums’ are extremely misleading to the American people. While being publicized identically to official, bipartisan committee hearings, they are nowhere near the same. These ‘forums’ are Democrat-only meetings being conducted under the veil of official committee work. These practices are unhelpful to finding real solutions, provide one-sided commentary on important issues, and provide fuel for further division in our country.” – U.S. Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho)