The Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which focused on issues like voting rights, freedom of assembly, and criminal justice reform measures, has been disbanded by the Republican-controlled House Oversight and Accountability Committee.
Rep. James Comer, the committee's chairman, stated in a meeting on Tuesday that this does not exclude these issues from being brought up before the committee.
“Let me be very clear: any topic that’s not mentioned in the subcommittee jurisdiction is reserved for the full committee,” Comer said. “We can have a committee hearing in this committee on basically anything we want.”
The Hill reports that a spokesperson of the panel explained, “Oversight Republicans are realigning subcommittees to ensure the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of the federal government and all its agencies. Going forward, subcommittees will now be better equipped to meet our mission, identify problems, and propose meaningful legislative reforms for the American people.”
However, that’s not how some Democrats see it. The Hill reports that Rep. Jasmine Crockett of Texas says the committee needs to reinstate the subcommittee, to do otherwise is to send an “unmistakable message to the American people that their civil rights and civil liberties are no longer a priority to the 118th Congress.”
Black Leaders React to Supreme Blow to Voting Rights Act
Crockett, who is by trade a civil rights attorney, said she was appointed to the Oversight Committee on Friday, when she heard the news that the subcommittee had been removed. Calling the decision “reckless and cruel,” Crockett released a statement expressing her dismay over the move. “Rather than squandering their authority on investigations of the President’s family, the Chairman and House Republicans should use their authority to conduct oversight and investigate the merciless murders of innocent Americans – mainly Americans who look like me – at the hands of law enforcement.” her statement read in part.
Invoking Tyre Nichols, whose death at police hands is under federal investigation Crockett introduced an amendment Tuesday to reinstate the subcommittee.
“Especially in a time like this – when across the nation, from small towns to big cities, Americans are crying out against the horrible injustice that was perpetrated against Tyre Nichols and so many others every single day, it is undeniable that the civil rights of the American people are under threat and this committee must do something about it,” Crockett said on Tuesday.
She is not without support. Ranking member Rep. Jamie Raskin says he has an “obligation to stand in defense of this subcommittee.”
Raskin noted that the subcommittee was capable of considering issues in a bipartisan manner in prior years, including the war on drugs, marajuana policy and extremist political violence across the country.
There’s been no reason given why the subcommittee was removed, or if at any point it will be reinstated.
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