In a Tuesday letter, House Oversight Committee Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) threatened to subpoena the Department of Justice and the Department of Agriculture for the agencies’ air travel records.
The committee leaders wrote in a letter obtained by Politico that the DOJ and USDA had failed to comply with their request for agency officials’ air travel records. The committee asked for the documents to be turned over by Oct. 10, and Gowdy and Cummings said they will issue subpoenas to the two agencies if they do not comply by the end of October.
Gowdy and Cummings asked all federal agencies and the White House to turn over air travel records for their staff following reports that several Cabinet leaders used non-commercial airplanes for official travel. Tom Price resigned as Health and Human Services secretary after Politico revealed that he spent about $1 million of taxpayer money on charter and government planes. Several other Cabinet leaders have also come under scrutiny for their travel habits, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
Of the 24 agencies contacted by the committee, only ten were completely compliant with the request. The committee sent letters to 12 agencies and the White House, noting that they did not fully comply with the records request and asking that they provide the additional documents by the end of the month, per Politico. However, Gowdy and Cummings did not threaten a subpoena in those letters.
The committee also sent an additional request to all agencies for information on the travel options during the last few months of the Obama administration.
“This additional request is necessary to assess the frequency and nature of this issue to help determine whether new policies or regulations need to be enacted or perhaps to even change the nature of appropriations to your department,” they wrote in the letters.
The White House responded to the committee’s request, which was sent to chief of staff John Kelly, earlier this month and told the committee that Kelly was not in charge of travel requests from all components within the White House, per Politico. The White House told the committee to direct its request to the different components within the White House.