US House of Representatives Rules Change Will See Corporate Clients Being Deposed Under Oath

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The US House of Representatives adopted H. Res. 6 on January 9, 2019, setting forth the rules for the conduct of House business in the 116th Congress. H. Res. 6 dramatically expands committees’ investigative power by—in a stark departure from prior House rules—allowing committee staff to depose any business or individual, subject to the near plenary power of the federal government, without a member present. Anyone facing a congressional investigation (or even the prospect of one) would be wise to consider the tactical implications this rule change will have on managing and responding to congressional investigations.

On January 9, 2019, the House adopted H. Res. 6 setting forth the rules for the conduct of House business in the 116th Congress. H. Res. 6 dramatically expands committees’ investigative power by—in a stark departure from prior House rules—allowing committee staff to depose any business or individual, subject to the near plenary power of the federal government,1 without a member present.2 While the Senate has historically permitted staff of selected committees to conduct depositions without members present,3 the House had always been less willing to give staff such broad authority—until now. The rule change represents a key procedural first step in the Democratic House majority making good on its promise to ramp up oversight of the executive and of the private sector.4 The rules change dramatically increases the ability of many committees to conduct fast-moving, hard-hitting and in-depth oversight. The legal, political, business and reputational risks flowing from congressional investigations have increased—again. Anyone facing a congressional investigation (or even the prospect of one) would be wise to consider the tactical implications this rule change will have on managing and responding to these risks.

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