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Senate Judiciary Authorizes Subpoenas for DOJ

The Senate Judiciary Committee today approved nine bills and resolutions as well as authorizing the issuing of a subpoenas to several Justice Department officials as part of a burgeoning Congressional investigation into the firing of several U.S. attorneys.

The committee approved by voice vote: the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007 (S. 261), which was amended at last week’s markup, the COPS Improvement Act of 2007 (S. 368), the Safe Babies Act (S. 627), the Emergency and Disaster Assistance Fraud Penalty Enhancement Act of 2007 (S. 863) and four resolutions.

Legislation to authorize the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (S. 231) was passed by a roll call vote of 18 “yeas” and one “pass” at the request of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla). According to his office, Coburn took a pass because he wants to take a further look at the bill since it deals with spending issues.

The committee also authorized Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to issue eleven subpoenas in conjunction with the investigation of the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. Subpoenas were issued to six fired attorneys as well as five Department of Justice officials, including former Justice Department Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson. Sampson resigned earlier in the week.

“The attorney general has admitted mistakes were made, but he and the White House stand by their actions, which have done so much to undercut the independence of federal law enforcement and to besmirch the reputations of former Bush appointees,” Leahy said.

Ranking member Arlen Specter (R-Pa) stated his hope that the investigation would be “handled with great delicacy.”

Subpoenas for White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and Deputy White House Counsel Bill Kelley were held over at the request of Specter.

The committee also held over the Federal Agency Data Mining Reporting Act of 2007 (S. 236), the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2007 (S. 376) and the OPEN Government Act (S. 849).

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