House Resolutions of Inquiry [May 12, 2003]   [open pdf - 112KB]

"The resolution of inquiry is a House procedure that seeks factual information from the executive branch. The resolution is privileged and may be considered at any time after it is properly reported or discharged from committee. It applies only to requests for facts--not opinions--within the Administration's control. This report explains the history, procedure, specific uses of resolutions of inquiry, and identifies the use thus far in the 108th Congress (H.Res. 68). The examples in this report demonstrate that even when a resolution of inquiry is reported adversely from a committee and tabled on the floor, it frequently leads to the release of a substantial amount of information from the Administration. The quality and quantity of executive branch material discharged by a resolution of inquiry is often the very reason for reporting it adversely and tabling it, because the sponsor of the amendment has received everything requested. For other CRS [Congressional Research Service] reports regarding legislative techniques for obtaining information from the executive branch, see CRS Report RL30966, Congressional Access to Executive Branch Information: Legislative Tools, by Louis Fisher; and CRS Report RL31836, Congressional Investigations: Subpoenas and Contempt Power, by Louis Fisher. For legal analysis, see CRS Report 95-464A, Investigative Oversight: An Introduction to the Law, Practice, and Procedure of Congressional Inquiry, by Morton Rosenberg, and CRS Report RS30319, Presidential Claims of Executive Privilege: History, Law, Practice and Recent Developments, by Morton Rosenberg. For a general report on oversight methods, see CRS Report RL30240, Congressional Oversight Manual."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL31909
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