WASHINGTON -- A contempt citation against former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Anne Burford will not be dropped until Congress gets access to promised documents, a House chairman said Thursday.
Rep. Elliott Levitas, D-Ga., chairman of the House Public Works investigations and oversight subcommittee, said 'performance and not promise' is the test in determining what to do about the citation.
'We have had too many agreements with the agency in the past for me to say so solely on the basis of a promise,' Levitas said.
Rep. Gene Snyder, R-Ky., complained the contempt citation still hangs over Mrs. Burford despite her resignation and a White House promise to deliver to congressional investigators all the documents they have sought.
The House voted Mrs. Burford in contempt of Congress Dec. 16 for refusing to give subponenaed toxic waste cleanup enforcement documents to the Levitas subcommittee. She said she was following President Reagan's orders.
Levitas and the administration later worked out an agreement giving his subcommittee access to the documents with an intricate procedure for keeping what the EPA called 'enforcement-sensitive' portions secret. Part of that agreement was that Levitas would make his best effort to have the House vote to drop the contempt action.
When Mrs. Burford resigned March 9, Reagan ordered unconditional access to EPA documents for all six congressional panels investigating the EPA, without the secrecy provisions Levitas agreed to.
Levitas said once the documents were made available as promised, he would 'live up to the agreements I made' to see that the contempt action is dropped and introduce a resolution 'that will deal with the matter.'
Rep. James Howard, D-N.J., chairman of the Public Works Committee, complained about the Justice Department's failure to prosecute Mrs. Burford under the December contempt citation.
Snyder replied, 'To hold her hostage and prosecute her because of what the Justice Department is doing or not doing wrongly is inherently wrong in itself.'