What You Need to Know
The Democrats will control the House in the 116th Congress, which will convene on January 3, 2019. Although their majority is slim, Democrats now chair committees, determine which investigations to pursue and hearings to hold, and wield subpoena power. Two themes will govern their actions: (1) greed—whether companies treated the public fairly; and, (2) potential corruption stemming from dealings with the Trump administration. They have already targeted pharmaceutical, oil and gas, chemical, financial services, technology, mining, and transportation companies. For-profit educational institutions, banks, and other lenders are not far behind. Recent oversight investigations on opioids, oil spills, privacy protections of tech giants, and universities involved in the university gymnastics assault scandal all demonstrate how companies and their executives can be drawn into these controversies.
2020 will be a presidential election year. Expectations for legislative action on major issues are universally low. Partisanship, on the other hand, will be high. In such an atmosphere, those who receive a congressional “invitation” to meet with, or who may be called to testify before a congressional committee should be aware that a congressional investigation is a proceeding in which much is at stake - for the business whose officers must testify, for those individuals personally, and often for their industry as a whole.
The following points are key to understanding and preparing for a congressional investigation: