Senate Commerce Chairman Rockefeller Announces New Committee Rules

February 12, 2009

Washington, DC - John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation issued the following statement:
“The Senate Commerce Committee today adopted our rules and structure for this Congress.  The existing Senate rules give the Commerce Committee expansive jurisdiction over many sectors of the economy that will play a key role in the long term economic success of our country.
“Included in the rules officially adopted today are new sections detailing the process by which the Committee may exercise its authority to issue subpoenas.
“This power will allow the Committee to act quickly and aggressively to protect consumers and make sure our government is functioning effectively, efficiently and rooting out abuse - which is especially critical at a time of limited resources and economic uncertainty.
“While the Committee's subpoena process is new, the power to issue subpoenas is not.  Section 1 Rule XXVI of the Standing Senate Rules gives the Committee the authority to “require by subpoena” the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents.   What we are doing here is laying out the steps the Committee will take in the event a subpoena is necessary to do our work.
“The court of public opinion is by far the strongest check on good government and good corporate citizenship, and a congressional subpoena generally should be called upon as a tool of last resort.  But effective oversight is essential and must not be obstructed.  This Committee must and will bring in to Congressional and public view important information about how  well the  laws and programs under our jurisdiction work, and we stand ready to address manipulation or neglect by either the Executive Branch or outside parties as needed .”