Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Survey of House and Senate Committee Rules on Subpoenas

"House Rule XI, clause 2(m)(1) and (3) authorizes House committees and subcommittees to issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents. Senate Rule XXVI, paragraph 1 authorizes Senate committees and subcommittees to subpoena witnesses and documents. In turn, most House and Senate committees have adopted in their own rules subpoena provisions containing procedures for exercising this grant of power from their parent chamber.

Committee rules may cover authorization, issuing, and service of subpoenas; may cover just one or two of these actions; or may be silent on exercise of the subpoena power. A subpoena must be authorized—a decision to approve this legal order to a person to appear to testify or to provide documents. Once authorized, a subpoena must be issued—signed and given to an individual to deliver the subpoena to the person named in it. To deliver a subpoena to the person named is to serve the subpoena.

Most House and Senate committees have specifically included in their rules one or more provisions on committees’ and subcommittees’ power to authorize subpoenas by majority vote. Most House committees have also delegated to their chair the power to authorize subpoenas. Many of these rules delegating authority also require the chair to consult the committee’s ranking minority Member..."
House Subpoenas

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