The House voted to hold both Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress over the administration's efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The vote came against the backdrop of an intense political fight between the White House and Democrats.
The top Republican on the committee, Jim Jordan of OH, countered that both agencies under Barr and Ross have submitted more than 31,000 documents to the committee and made "all kinds of witnesses" available for questioning, including Ross himself.
Cummings argued that Trump's executive order undermined the administration's original rationale for adding the citizenship question - better enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.
It marks the first time the full House has voted to hold members of the Trump administration in criminal contempt.
Wednesday's vote goes further than previous contempt motions in this Congress so far because it's elevated to the level of criminal contempt, which would typically refer the matter to the Justice Department.
The latest escalation in tensions between House Democrats and the administration comes after the House Oversight Committee approved a resolution last month recommending that the House find Barr and Ross in contempt "for refusal to comply with subpoenas" issued as part of the panel's investigation into the push to include a question about citizenship in the upcoming census. Trump said last week that citizenship data would be useful for redistricting.
"Holding any cabinet secretary in criminal contempt of Congress is a serious and somber matter - one that I have done everything in my power to avoid", said Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democratic chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is conducting the census investigation.
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Ross told Fox Business Network on Wednesday that his department turned over about 14,000 pages of documents in response to questions from House Democrats related to the census. "But in the case of the attorney general and the secretary, they blatantly obstructed our ability to do congressional oversight".
'If the Democrats can't impeach President Trump, they will instead hold his Cabinet in contempt of Congress, ' he said. He's directing agencies to try to compile the information using existing databases.
Katko, a former federal prosecutor, said in a statement that the contempt vote was not warranted.
All Republicans voted no, as did four Democrats.
The House Oversight Committee had subpoenaed John Gore - a Justice Department official who wrote the official justification for the question that the Supreme Court has since declared pretextual - for testimony. Critics have argued that including a citizenship question would discourage immigrants from participating and result in an undercount of the country's population.
"Instead of accepting the numerous good-faith efforts of accommodation the Departments have made, Democrats continue to demand documents that are subject to executive privilege", it said in a statement.
Cummings has said that the committee has obtained new evidence that shows Ross was pushing staff to add the citizenship question months before the department made the request, and that he was doing so at the urging of the White House.
The secretary dismissed the vote as "just more political theater", and noted that his department had handed over thousands of pages of documents over to the committee already.