Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, a senior member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released a statement June 4 ahead of the committee’s second business meeting in three weeks to consider partisan subpoenas.
Carper, who has served as HSGAC chairman, implored Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, and Republicans on the committee to instead work in a bipartisan way and focus on solutions to the public health, economic and social justice crises the country is currently facing.
“Today, our country is facing multiple unprecedented crises that demand our attention and meaningful action,” said Carper. “We are in the middle of an ongoing public health emergency that has already taken over 100,000 American lives. Our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents and neighbors have been lost to COVID-19 — many of whom were unable to even be with their loved ones to say goodbye. We are also in the middle of an economic emergency the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression. More than 40 million Americans are out of work. Many businesses that closed amid stay-at-home orders may never open their doors again.”
“Both of these crises are disproportionately hurting black Americans,” said Carper. “Currently, more than half of African-American adults in this country are unemployed. And while African-Americans make up 13% of our country’s population, they account for nearly 23% of U.S. deaths from COVID-19. African-Americans are also more likely to continue putting their health at risk during this pandemic, with less than one in five black workers able to work from home.”
“It’s against this backdrop of unprecedented crises that a tragedy unfolded last week that remains all too common in our country — the murder of yet another unarmed black man, George Floyd, at the hands of law enforcement,” said Carper. “Once again, systemic injustices in our country took the very last breath of an innocent father, brother and son. At this moment, we are seeing Americans rise up, from coast to coast, to demand equal treatment and equal justice for all Americans, regardless of the color of their skin. Citizens from all walks of life are rightly calling for fundamental changes to our justice systems and institutions. Meanwhile, we have a president who, each day, seems to become more committed to preserving his own power than pursuing progress or peace.”
“We are a nation in crisis confronting matters of life and death,” said Carper. “And we, as elected officials, have a responsibility to respond in substantive ways with a sense of urgency. I know that the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is up to the challenge.”
“Two weeks ago, I implored Chairman Johnson, in these unprecedented times, to be the leader that this committee and this country needs right now,” said Carper. “More than most, I have seen what this committee is capable of doing, especially in times of turmoil and trial. From Sept. 11 to Hurricane Katrina, I have seen both Democratic and Republican leaders of this committee pull us together to focus on real solutions for the American people we all represent. Unfortunately, Chairman Johnson has, once again, chosen to reject the tradition of this committee that he so often extolls. Instead, he is choosing to put this committee’s reputation at great risk by pursuing blatantly partisan investigations. It’s not only disappointing. It’s a waste of this committee’s time and resources, and it’s irresponsible at such a critical moment.”
“There is so much that needs to be done in light of this pandemic, this economic crisis and this moment of uprising,” said Carper. “And I applaud our Ranking Member, Sen. [Gary] Peters, for repeatedly advocating for this committee to deal with the issues that are affecting millions of Americans in this moment. He’s right. We should be focusing on any number of areas where we can make a real difference. The committee charged with protecting national security could be looking into reports of foreign and domestic agitators infiltrating overwhelmingly peaceful protests for their own purposes. We could be examining abusive police practices in our country. We could be focusing on persistent shortages of personal protective equipment that should be keeping our health care workers safe. We could be conducting critical oversight to make sure that coronavirus relief funds actually get into the pockets of those who need it most. We could be holding hearings on the supply chain, the Postal Service, the disruption of the ongoing Census, the militarization of the District of Columbia, the rise in domestic violent extremism in 2019, the dismissals of respected and independent inspectors general — or any number of constructive issues.”
“But instead, this committee is spending its time trying to score political points and help a president in an election year,” said Carper.
“Where were these investigations that Chairman Johnson is now pursuing so vigorously in the more than three years since the election?” asked Carper. “After only issuing two subpoenas in the first five years of his chairmanship, why is he suddenly rushing to issue nearly 40 subpoenas against Donald Trump’s political opponents all at once and only months before a presidential election?”
“The moment we find ourselves in is far too crucial for political stunts, especially given this committee’s legacy,” said Carper. “History will remember what we choose to prioritize right now, and it will not judge these actions of our chairman kindly.”
“As so often happens in the Senate, there are multiple committee meetings taking place at once this morning,” said Carper. “While Chairman Johnson calls yet another business meeting to chase conspiracy theories, the committee on which I serve as the lead Democrat — the Environment and Public Works Committee — is holding a hearing to discuss ways in which we can help our economy recover from the coronavirus. I will not be attending Chairman Johnson’s politically-motivated proceedings today. Instead, I will be attending our EPW hearing and working in a productive, bipartisan way to advance legitimate Senate business that will actually help our constituents and our economy recover. Once again, I urge Chairman Johnson, and all my Republican colleagues, to do the same.”