Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member Full Committee Markup of H.R. 2834, “To Enact Certain Laws Relating to the Environment as Title 55, United States Code”

Opening Statement of U.S. Representative Conyers begins at 34:52 through 40:34

“Mr. Chairman, I oppose H.R. 2834 because of serious concerns that I have about the process by which this legislation comes before us today as well its substance.  To begin with, the process by which this bill is proceeding to a markup – with only minimal notice and in the absence of collaborative and deliberative bipartisan review – stands in stark contrast with longstanding Committee practice in this area.

“This Committee has a long tradition of considering codification legislation pursuant to a thoroughly inclusive process that often spans multiple congresses.  A positive law codification -such as this legislation - requires close scrutiny because, once enacted, it repeals existing law and restates the law in a new form as a positive law title of the United States Code.

“To that end, Majority and Minority staff traditionally work closely with the Office of Law Revision Counsel and relevant committees of jurisdiction as well as all affected agencies and interested parties in the private sector to ensure that these bills truly are completely accurate restatements of current law.

“I am unaware of a single instance in which this process has not been completely bipartisan and in which the final legislative product has not had the support of both the Chair and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee. However, the bill we are considering today has had no Minority input, was introduced by neither the Chairman nor the Ranking Member of the full Committee, and appears to have had no comment from any relevant committee.

“Based on consultation with Law Revision Counsel staff and other interested parties, it appears that critical input from affected agencies has not been adequately solicited prior to the finalization of this legislative text. 

“Although the Environmental Protection Agency was given an opportunity to consider prior iterations of the legislation, such outreach appears to have been sporadic and without closure. When an actual bill was introduced this June, the Environmental Protection Agency was then given only 30 days to respond with comments on the 585 pages of text when the normal comment period would have been at least 180 days.  

“In addition, the Chairman of the Regulatory Reform Subcommittee sent letters to relevant committees requiring their feedback on this voluminous legislation also with only a 30-day deadline to respond. 

“I would note that these request letters – which under normal procedures would have been sent by both the Chair and Ranking Member of the Full Committee – were not shared with the Minority until this past Friday evening. 

“Other agencies, such as the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and the Council for Environmental Quality, were never consulted on the potential far-reaching effects that this legislation might have on existing law. 

“Another concern that I have is that this legislation goes far beyond simply restating current law. 

For example, the EPA, in the brief time it was given to respond, identified serious drafting issues with the bill that could be construed to change the meaning of existing law.  In particular, the Agency adamantly disputes  the bill’s interpretation of current law regarding its authority under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act to issue the Clean Power Plan and regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other stationary sources.  

“This provision has generated significant confusion and the EPA warns that this bill, if it were law, ‘would exacerbate the confusion.’

“Outside organizations, such as the Sierra Club, have raised similar concerns that the legislation will  ‘introduce unnecessary ambiguity’ into the Clean Air Act.

“Finally, I am concerned that this sharp departure from normal Committee process may have been influenced by broader political considerations and a possible desire to impact pending legal disputes. 

“The Natural Resources Defense Council, along with other environmental groups, have cautioned Members that this bill ‘is a blatant effort by polluters and their allies to bias current litigation against the Clean Power Plan.’ Tellingly, this bill was noticed for markup on the very same day that the EPA issued a final rulemaking regarding the Clean Power Plan.  As authority to issue the rulemaking, the EPA explicitly cited section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. 

“And industry advocates have already cited this proposed restatement of current law in support of their challenges to the EPA's authority to implement the Clean Power Plan. At best, consideration of this bill today represents an incomplete and irresponsible legislative process.  At worst, it represents an effort to push through a purely political agenda to change substantive environmental law.

“Accordingly, I urge my colleagues to oppose H.R. 2834.”
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Friday, October 23, 2015

Justice Department Finds No Political Targeting at IRS

Washington, D.C. (Oct. 23, 2015)—Today,Rep. John Conyers, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee and  Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued the following statements regarding the Department of Justice’s letter finding no evidence that the IRS targeted conservative groups for political reasons.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Member Conyers stated:

“The Department’s findings confirm what we have known since the self-proclaimed ‘conservative Republican’ manager in Cincinnati explained more than two years ago that the IRS did not target conservative groups for political reasons and took no direction from the White House.  This is also consistent with the conclusions of two Inspector General reports and multi-year House and Senate Congressional investigations, including a recent bipartisan report from the Senate Finance Committee.  It is time Republicans end this partisan witch-hunt and focus on matters that impact the lives of the American people.”

Ranking Member Cummings stated:

"Today, the Justice Department confirmed the same conclusions we had years ago.  Over the past five years, Republicans in the House of Representatives have squandered literally tens of millions of dollars going down all kinds of investigative rabbit holes – IRS, Planned Parenthood, Benghazi – with absolutely no evidence of illegal activity.  I believe the American people have higher expectations for their elected officials, and they want Congress to start doing its job and focusing on issues that matter instead of these ridiculous, partisan, taxpayer-funded attacks."

The IRS reported on June 3, 2015, that it has spent nearly $20 million responding to requests relating to this investigation:

“More than 250 IRS employees have spent more than 160,000 hours working directly on complying with congressional investigations, at a cost of approximately $20 million.”  

As of March 25, 2015, the IRS had produced more than 1.3 million pages of documents in response to Congressional requests.  The Oversight and Government Reform Committee alone has conducted 54 witness interviews, and the Inspector General has conducted multiple inquiries, the most recent of which included interviewing 118 witnesses and reviewing more than 20 terabytes of data. 

According to today's letter from the Department of Justice:

In collaboration with the FBI and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the Department's Criminal and Civil Rights Divisions conducted an exhaustive probe.  We conducted more than 100 witness interviews, collected more than one million pages of IRS documents, analyzed almost 500 tax-exemption applications, examined the role and potential culpability of scores of IRS employees, and considered the applicability of civil rights, tax administration, and obstruction statutes.  Our investigation uncovered substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment, and institutional inertia, leading to the belief by many tax exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints.  But poor management is not a crime.  We found no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution.  We also found no evidence that any official involved in the handling of tax-exempt applications or IRS leadership attempted to obstruct justice.  Based on the evidence developed in this investigation and the recommendation of experienced career prosecutors and supervising attorneys at the Department, we are closing our investigation and will not seek any criminal charges."

In June 2013, a self-proclaimed “conservative Republican” Screening Group Manager who worked at the IRS for 21 years as a civil servant and supervised a team of Screening Agents in the Cincinnati field office denied that he or anyone on his team was directed by the White House to target conservative groups applying for tax exempt status, or that their actions in screening tax-exempt applicants were politically motivated:

Q:        Do you have any reason to believe that anyone in the White House was involved in the decision to screen Tea Party cases?

A:         I have no reason to believe that.

Q:        Do you have any reason to believe that anyone in the White House was involved in the decision to centralize the review of Tea Party cases?

A:         I have no reason to believe that.

He further stated:

Q:        In your opinion, was the decision to screen and centralize the review of Tea Party cases the targeting of the President’s political enemies?

A:        I do not believe that the screening of these cases had anything to do other than consistency and identifying issues that needed to have further development.
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Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member Full Committee Hearing on “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation”

“Today, we welcome Director James Comey of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for his second appearance before the House Judiciary Committee since taking office on September 4, 2013.

“The FBI’s mission is a complex undertaking: to protect the United States from terrorism, to enforce our criminal laws, and to lead the nation’s law enforcement community.

“And yet, as vast as this mission seems, I think nearly all of the discussion we will have here today can be distilled into one word: trust.

“Trust in the executive branch to respect and secure our privacy and our civil liberties.  Trust in the FBI as an institution.  Trust in the state and local agencies that police our communities.

“In many respects, Director Comey, I think we agree on this point.

“For example: you have spoken powerfully about ‘the hard truths’ we must keep in mind when we discuss race and policing—and particularly when we discuss the use of force by police officers.

“I am told that you require all new agents to study the FBI’s interaction with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and to visit his memorial at the Tidal Basin.

“I am also told that you keep on your desk a copy of Robert Kennedy’s approval of J. Edgar Hoover’s request to place a wiretap on Dr. King. 

“These are powerful reminders of a troubling and not-too-distant history.  It is not difficult to draw a line from that era to recent events in Ferguson, Baltimore, New York, and Cleveland.

“And that is why your work to build trust between police and our communities is so important. 

“Nowhere is that effort more apparent than in your call for better data on the use of force by police. 

“Although the FBI is the national custodian of crime statistics, that data is reported voluntarily and inconsistently. 

“You have been honest in your assessment that official statistics in this area are so incomplete as to be ‘embarrassing and ridiculous.’

“We need a better understanding of what drives police use of force, and we cannot study the problem without reliable data.  I urge you to continue to press your state and local partners for consistent and accurate reporting to the National Incident-Based Reporting System.

“Just as we must rebuild trust in certain state and local law enforcement units, we will look to your testimony today to reassure us about a number of programs and activities at the FBI.

“Earlier this year, the public noticed a small plane flying in a tight pattern directly over the site of unrest West Baltimore.  Other reports from other parts of the country—including my district in Detroit—raised questions about similar aircraft. 

“The FBI has since confirmed the existence of its aerial surveillance program.

“On June 3, fifteen members of this Committee wrote you to ask for more information about this program.  Your team provided our staff with a briefing soon thereafter.

“But the public still has many questions about aerial surveillance, and you have said that there is a great deal of misinformation about this program.  I would like you to use your testimony to explain, from your perspective, how this program works and why we should trust the Bureau to operate it.

“Similarly, I think we would benefit from a fuller discussion of encryption and what you have called the ‘Going Dark’ problem.

“Over the past year, you have called for a congressional mandate to give the FBI special access to otherwise encrypted data.

“I have a difficult time understanding this proposal.  Every technical expert who has spoken on this issue has concluded that it is technically impossible to provide this access without also compromising our security against bad actors.

“Even if it were technically feasible, it would cost our technology sector billions of dollars to implement the scheme—and perhaps billions more from loss of business overseas, where U.S. government surveillance programs have already taken a toll on the industry.

“And even if it were technically feasible and easy to implement, a new rule for U.S. companies would not succeed in keeping bad actors from using unbreakable encryption—which is open source, free, and widely available from companies based overseas.

“As Chairman Goodlatte argued when we had this debate in 1999: ‘Only by allowing the use of strong encryption, not only domestically but internationally as well, can we hope to make the Internet a safe and secure environment.’

“I agree with that sentiment, you have made similar public statements, and I hope that you can help us to reconcile that view with your call for special access.

“Finally, because rigorous oversight is necessary for public trust, I hope that you will commit today to full compliance with the Inspector General Act.

“For the past five years, the FBI has resisted the clear mandate of that law.  The Inspector General of the Department of Justice is to have timely access to every document he requires to carry out his duties. 

“Noncompliance has real consequences.  This Committee waited until February of this year to receive a report about the FBI’s use of Section 215 orders from 2007 to 2009.  The public waited until May for the unclassified version. 

“In the middle of a national debate on government surveillance, we waited six years for critical information.  This delay is unacceptable.
“I understand that there are other interpretations of the law.  Congress will soon clarify the matter, likely in overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion. 
“But in the meantime, Director Comey, I hope that the Bureau will step away from its litigating position and give the Office of the Inspector General the access it requires and deserves.

“Your job is a complex and demanding one, Director.  We appreciate your being here today.  I look forward to your testimony, and I yield back.”

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Life of Sen. Edward Brooke of Mass. is celebrated at Library of Congress

Life of Sen. Edward Brooke of Mass. is celebrated at Library of Congress

  • Sen.Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. John Conyers, R-Mich., discuss the legacy of Sen. Edward Brooke III. GateHouse Media Photo/Peter Urban

    • By Peter Urban
      GateHouse Media Washington Bureau

      Posted Oct. 21, 2015 at 5:51 PM
      Updated Oct 21, 2015 at 6:26 PM 

      WASHINGTON - Edward Brooke, the first African-American popularly elected to the U.S. Senate, was celebrated Wednesday at the Library of Congress, where he was remembered by family, friends and colleagues for his passionate commitment to justice for all.
      “He was there for the people regardless of color or creed,” said Bernard Mavritte, a cousin of the late Massachusetts senator. “When they gave him the Congressional Medal of Honor, it was a great ceremony, and he spoke with no notes – articulately and brilliantly. One thing he said was to stop politicking and for both sides to come together for the people.”
      Brooke, who died in January at age 95, was twice elected to the U.S. Senate, serving from 1966 to 1978. He lost a third bid to Democrat Paul Tsongas after narrowly winning a Republican primary challenge. Brooke had also served from 1962 to 1966 as Massachusetts attorney general – again being the first African-American to hold that position.
      About 80 family, friends and admirers gathered Wednesday in a lavishly decorated room at the Library of Congress – reserved for members of Congress – for the memorial service that was highlighted by a question and answer session with Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. Brooke’s wife and son, Edward Brooke IV, attended the memorial.
      Markey marveled at the political genius of Brooke, who he said had the same level of charisma as Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohammed Ali. How else to explain his success in a state where white Irish Catholic Democrats dominated Massachusetts politics while Boston Brahmin’s controlled the Republican minority.
      “It began when he ran for attorney general in 1962. He had to beat Elliott Richardson for the Republican nomination,” Markey said. “In other words, a graduate of D.C.’s Dunbar High School and Howard University had to beat a Harvard Law graduate who clerked for Judge Learned Hand – about as perfect a WASP as God has ever created. And Ed Brooke clobbered him.”
      Brooke turned out to be a great attorney general and with that record was able to win election to the U.S. Senate in a state where 97 percent of the voters were white, Markey said.
      “He won going away,” he said. “And it went across Irish, Italian, black and Wasp. It was a consensus that he was the right man for that job.”
      As a member of the Senate, Brooke was “fiercely bipartisan,” Markey said. He was a supporter of President Nixon in 1968 but fought against his early nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court – helping to defeat two of them.
      “That just doesn’t happen for a Senator from your own party to lead such a fight,” Markey said.
      The memorial service also included brief remarks from Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina – the second African-American elected as a Republican to the U.S. Senate.
      Scott said that in reviewing Brooke’s life he was struck by his willingness to work across party lines on behalf of the American people.
      “He was a creative Republican who moved Republicans and Democrats to come together on issues important to those folks living in distressed communities,” Scott said. “The power of his conviction brought people of disparate views to the same place.”
      Ralph G. Neas, who served six years as Brooke’s legislative director, also spoke glowingly of the senator as someone with the political independence and courage to champion affordable housing, voting rights and reproductive rights during a time when conservative Republicans had begun to challenge those issues.
      “We got through the 1970s in large measure because Ed Brooke protected the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Equal Rights Act, Title IX, affirmative action and reproductive rights. He was the leader,” Neas said.
      The Library of Congress has a collection of more than 200,000 items - letters, photographs and other documents - from U.S. Sen. Edward Brooke III.
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    Conyers, Goodlatte and Sensenbrenner Praise House Passage of Legislation to Strengthen Privacy Protections for Individuals

    Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today approved the Judicial Redress Act of 2015(H.R. 1428) by voice vote. Introduced by Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.), the Judicial Redress Act of 2015 would strengthen partnerships with our allies and ensure continued law enforcement cooperation between the United States and Europe by giving covered foreign citizens the ability to seek judicial redress in U.S. courts to ensure that their privacy is protected.

    The bipartisan legislation would extend certain privacy protection rights to citizens of European countries, as well as other allied nations, if the federal government willfully discloses information in violation of the Privacy Act. Under the Judicial Redress Act, citizens of designated countries would be extended the core benefits of the Privacy Act, which already applies to Americans, with regard to information shared with U.S. law enforcement authorities, including the ability to bring a lawsuit for the intentional or willful disclosure of personal information.  Many countries already extend such protections to U.S. citizens.

    Dean of the U.S. House
    of Representatives
    John Conyers, Jr.
    House Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte (R-Va.), Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner, and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers issued the following statement on the passage of the bill:

    “Today’s bipartisan passage of the Judicial Redress Act will help restore our allies’ faith in U.S. data privacy protections and helping facilitate agreements, such as the Data Protection and Privacy Agreement, that strengthen our trans-Atlantic partnerships with Europe. This bill benefits not only our own law enforcement, but is a sign of good faith to our partners abroad. We are pleased with the resounding bipartisan support that has been shown for this measure by our colleagues, and urge the Senate to take up this measure as quickly as possible.”

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    Wednesday, October 14, 2015

    The Benghazi Committee Should Stop Wasting Time and Taxpayer Money

    By John Conyers, Jr.
    Dean of the U.S. House
    of Representatives
    John Conyers, Jr.
    Nearly fifteen years ago, the Independent Counsel Law lapsed after controversies concerning overzealous prosecutors like Kenneth Starr -- who had an unlimited budget and little accountability. Today, we face a similar specter of an untethered investigation: the so-called "Select Committee on Benghazi."
    On May 8, 2014, the House of Representatives established the Committee and authorized it to investigate the September 11, 2012 attack on United States facilities in Benghazi, Libya. The Committee was created even though the Benghazi incident had already been thoroughly investigated by seven other congressional committees and an independent Accountability Review Board, none of which found evidence of wrongdoing by American officials.
    Nearly every Democrat, myself included, voted against the resolution authorizing the Select Committee. I did so because I believed it was time to look forward, not backward. I believed it was time to work on implementing the many recommendations coming out of these prior investigations in order to enhance the safety of diplomats serving overseas. Many of us also believed that the real reason behind the establishment of the Select Committee was to target former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who, at that time, was rumored to be considering a presidential run.
    Unfortunately, our fears have proven to be well-founded. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) recently admitted during a Fox News interview that "... we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping..." McCarthy, the one-time presumed replacement for House Speaker, has since removed himself from that race, admitting at a press conference that his Benghazi statement "didn't help" his chances of assuming that role.
    This past summer, the Select Committee fired Major Bradley Podliska, an intelligence officer in the Air Force Reserve who worked as an investigator for ten months before he was terminated. Major Bradley now alleges that he was under intense pressure totarget Secretary Clinton. He claims that the Select Committee is "pursing a partisan investigation" and that he was fired, at least in part, for trying to conduct his responsibilities in a fact-based, objective manner.
    ​Earlier this month, the Select Committee passed the mark and became the longest and one of the least active congressional investigations in history. It has held only three hearings in more than sixteen months. It has spent approximately 4.7 million taxpayer dollars. If it continues to spend at this rate, the House of Representatives will have spent more on the Select Committee than it will on education, scientific research, or veterans.
    In particular, over the last several months, the Select Committee appears to have run aground over an issue that has absolutely no connection to the attacks in Benghazi: the use of a personal email account by Secretary Clinton, including the handling of classified information. There may be legitimate questions about this practice -- which was widespread at all levels of government until just a few years ago -- but they have nothing to do with the Select Committee. Moreover, the Select Committee appears ill-equipped to handle the subject matter for at least two reasons.
    First, the Select Committee itself mishandled classified materials transmitted by email. On August 21, the New York Times, Politico, and others reported that the Select Committee had handled several classified emails on a unsecure system. Given the uncertainty of the classification process -- these emails appear not to have been deemed classified when the Select Committee first possessed them -- I cannot presume any bad faith on the part of Select Committee. However, the incident highlights the open-ended and malleable nature of the panel's investigation, given that substantially identical allegations -- retaining an email subsequently designated as classified after receipt on an unsecure server -- has been leveled by Select Committee Republicans at Secretary Clinton.
    The aftermath of the disclosure also illustrates the problems with the Committee's lack of transparency. While the Minority staff for the Select Committee acknowledged that they were "instructed that it needed to move the document from unclassified computer systems and files to classified computer systems and files," the Majority has as of yet failed to acknowledge the discrepancy. Their spokesperson was only willing to acknowledge that its "system and server for handling classified information in electronic format was subjected to and passed a year of painstaking planning, documentation, and review by numerous security and IT professionals in the Intelligence Community." Left unsaid was why the Select Committee was pursuing a charge against Secretary Clinton -- the good faith retention of subsequently reclassified emails -- that seems to apply equally to themselves.
    Second, the Select Committee appears to have intentionally leaked classified information for political ends. We know that one of the emails highlighted as inappropriate for Secretary Clinton to have on her unsecured server was leaked to the New York Times in full, unredacted form in May. This was followed by a false and inaccurate leak to the New York Times in late July, suggesting that Secretary Clinton was a target of a criminal referral by the Inspector General. These leaks are hard to square with Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy's statement that "serious investigations do not leak information or make selective releases of information without full and proper context." Yet, as it presently stands, there is no avenue to obtain accountability by the Select Committee on this or any other matter, just as there has been no accounting for the millions of dollars in taxpayer funds it has spent or how little work it has performed.
    The disclosure that the Select Committee appears to have retained classified emails on a unsecure server, Rep. McCarthy's blunt admission that the Select Committee is merely a taxpayer-funded political ploy, and the latest revelation of partisan inner workings by a former investigator offers Majority leadership a chance to step back and recognize that its mandate has been long satisfied. I know Chairman Gowdy to be a fair and principled Member, and would therefore urge him to dissolve the Select Committee and get back to doing the business of the American people. As presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders stated to Secretary Clinton last night, "The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!"
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    Tuesday, October 13, 2015

    Conyers & Goodlatte Announce Next Locations on Copyright Review Listening Tour House Judiciary Committee to Make Two Stops in California

    U.S. House Judiciary Copyright Tour Dates

    Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) today announced that the House Judiciary Committee will continue the Committee’s listening tour as part of the comprehensive copyright review.  The House Judiciary Committee will travel to Silicon Valley on November 9th and Los Angeles on November 10th.  These discussions are expected to include a wide range of creators, innovators, technology professionals, and users of copyrighted works.  The Committee held a roundtable discussion as part of the copyright review listening tour in Nashville, Tennessee on September 22nd.   

    Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers issued the following statement on the next stops of the copyright review listening tour.

    Dean of the U.S. House
    of Representatives
    John Conyers, Jr.
    “Two years ago, the House Judiciary Committee launched a comprehensive review of our nation’s copyright laws, which have not been updated since 1976.  As technology continues to rapidly advance, we have a responsibility to ensure that our laws are keeping pace with these developments. 

    “The Committee is traveling to locations across America to hear directly from creators and innovators about the challenges they face in their creative fields and what changes are needed to ensure U.S. copyright law reflects the digital age in which we live.  We look forward to continuing the productive dialog that we had in Nashville, the first stop of the Committee’s listening tour.”
    Background: Chairman Goodlatte first announced the Judiciary Committee’s intention to undertake a comprehensive review of U.S. copyright law on April 24, 2013, in a speech before the World Intellectual Property Day celebration at the Library of Congress.  As part of the copyright review, the House Judiciary Committee has held 20 hearings which included testimony from 100 witnesses.  In July, Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers invited all prior witnesses of the Committee’s copyright review hearings and other interested stakeholders to meet with Committee staff and provide additional input on copyright policy issues.  To date nearly 50 meetings have been scheduled and those meetings, which are ongoing, will take several more weeks. In addition, Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers announced that the House Judiciary Committee would conduct a listening tour as part of the copyright review.  More information on the House Judiciary Committee’s comprehensive copyright review can be found here.  
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    Saturday, October 10, 2015

    Dems catch GOP off guard with Planned Parenthood vote

    Dems catch GOP off guard with Planned Parenthood vote

    Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee temporarily overpowered their GOP colleagues to block testimony from an anti-Planned Parenthood witness during a hearing Thursday.
    Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), protested a graphic video about abortion procedures that was shown to the committee by Dr. Anthony Levatino, who has performed abortions.
    “This witness has played a tape that he has now admitted under oath was not prepared in connection with Planned Parenthood at all and I ask that it be stricken from the record of this hearing,” he said, sparring with Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who controlled the hearing at the time.
    The video, which was about five minutes long, included a recording of a graphic phone conversation between a clinician and a young woman who sought an abortion at 27 weeks of pregnancy. The clinician said the abortion, at that term in pregnancy, would cost about $8,000 and increase by $1,000 each week.
    But when questioned, Levatino acknowledged that the clinic in question was not Planned Parenthood.
    In a rare move, Cicilline called a vote to strike the video from the hearing’s record. And with more Democrats in the hearing room than Republicans at the time, it passed.
    Nine Democrats voted to strike the video from the record, compared to seven Republicans who voted against it.
    Their victory, however, was short-lived. About five minutes later, several of the committee’s Republican members, including Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), returned to the hearing and called another vote.
    The testimony was put back into the record.
    “It was just a little bit of parliamentary maneuvering by Democrats there,” a Republican committee aide said.
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