Skip to comments.In 255-67 vote, House places Holder in contempt of Congress
Posted on 06/28/2012 1:57:36 PM PDT by Sub-Driver
In 255-67 vote, House places Holder in contempt of Congress By Jordy Yager and Pete Kasperowicz - 06/28/12 04:37 PM ET
The House voted Thursday to place Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for not complying with a congressional subpoena.
Seventeen Democrats bucked party lines and voted with Republicans to pass a criminal contempt resolution in a 255-67 vote. House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) pushed that resolution as part of his 16-month investigation into a botched Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation.
Only two Republicans voted no on the measure, while 65 Democrats recorded "no" votes and 108 Democrats didn't cast votes. Most of them were protesting the fact that the House GOP was holding the vote.
The two Republican "no" votes were Reps. Steve LaTourette (Ohio) and Scott Rigell (Va.). Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) was the only "present" vote from either party.
The Department of Justice is not expected to enforce the criminal contempt measure against Holder. But before the end of the day, the House was also expected to pass a separate resolution allowing the GOP House to pursue civil court action against Holder.
That second resolution could lead to a lengthy court battle if Issa pursues civil action against Holder.
While 17 Democrats sided with Republicans in the contempt vote, it was met with outrage from Democrats. The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) joined by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and many other Democrats staged a walkout during the vote as Democrats charged the GOP with staging a witch hunt against Holder that demeans the lower chamber.
Pelosi said during the debate that she would join the walkout, and told Democrats it's up to them whether to stay and vote against the resolution, or leave.
"So now I say to those who have a doubt about how they want to proceed, that instead of doing what I said before which was just to come and to treat this as a bill before the Congress and express my no listening to the unconscionable presentation, I want to join my CBC colleagues in boycotting the vote when we have the walkout after we have the debate," she said.
Several other Democrats also charged Republicans with making political hay against the Obama administration to help them in the November elections.
"When the history of this despicable proceeding is recorded, it will be said that your actions were politically motivated to discredit and defeat a president who has worked so hard over the past three years," Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) declared on the House floor during rule debate.
But Republicans decried Holder's refusal to hand over documents relating to the Justice Department's reaction to Operation Fast and Furious as nothing less than a "cover-up" and pointed to President Obama's assertion of executive privilege over the material as evidence of the administration's lack of transparency.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made a rare appearance on the floor to call for support for the resolution.
"I don't take this matter lightly, and I frankly hoped it would never come to this," Boehner said about an hour before voting started.
"But no Justice Department is above the law, and no Justice Department is above the Constitution, which each of us has sworn an oath to uphold," he said. "So I ask the members of this body to come together and to support this resolution."
Before the final vote, the House rejected a motion from Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) to recommit the resolution to Issa's committee. That motion failed 172-251, after which dozens of Democrats left the chamber.
As chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa has led Congress's investigation of Fast and Furious, which oversaw the sale of nearly 2,000 firearms to straw buyers for Mexican drug cartels.
Issa was initially concerned with uncovering who was responsible for allowing guns to "walk" during the operation. But he recently switched the primary concentration of his probe to focus on the DOJ's internal communications after the details of the operation were made public.
At the center of the feud between the DOJ and Issa is a letter the department sent last year to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) stating that it does everything in its power to stop guns from going to Mexico. Ten months later, the DOJ took the rare step of withdrawing the letter because it contained false information.
Nearly two months before the DOJ rescinded the letter, Issa subpoenaed Holder for documents related to the fallout that the letter's misinformation had caused.
But after turning over about 7,600 pages of documents to Issa on Fast and Furious, the Attorney General has refused to comply with the remainder of the subpoena, stating that much of the requested information would jeopardize ongoing prosecutions and criminal cases if it were made public.
After attempts at negotiating a compromise failed last week, the president at Holder's urging asserted executive privilege over the documents in question.
The DOJ's inspector general has been investigating the failed operation for more than a year as well. And Issa says he should have access to the roughly 80,000 documents that the IG has received from the DOJ.
I think I get it now. If you are part of the right crowd you can get away with anything.
So what about the investigation? The documents in question? Do they have a plan to go forward or was this it?
This Supreme Court vote didnt kill the Republic. It merely announced that the Republic is dead.
If fedgov is allowed to tax us for something we don’t do, without regard to the 9th and 10th Amendments, then the Republic is dead. It has been replaced by a national government committing many of the evils that are detailed in the unanimous Declaration of 1776.
Thank you, you 108 Democrats...whoever you are!
Let them walk out...obviously they learned nothing from the Wisconsin crybabies that tried that.
Another Illinois politician who doesn't have the cojones to take a stand. Hey, if it's good enough for Obama, ...
After today’s not-so-Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare, I’m holding the executive, legislative, & judical branches of the government ALL in deep contempt.
So, when will a congressional delegation show up to take Holder into custody?
The large number of Dems who did not vote is telling. They would not vote to support Holder
IMPEACH HIS ASS!!!! THROW HIM IN JAIL!!!
Thanx! I think we all need a good laugh today.
hoosiermama had to correct me on something basic I should have remembered from years ago.
Rep Walberg Votes to Hold AG Eric Holder in Contempt
Washington, D.C.Today, Rep Walberg voted in support of holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice have failed to turn over documents related to the botched Fast & Furious operation. During the sting, more than 2,000 guns wound up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels, two of which turned up at the scene of the 2010 killing of U.S. Border Patrol Agent and Michigan native, Brian Terry. The Department of Justice has obstructed the House investigation of this matter and refused to comply with a Congressional subpoena.
Todays vote is not a vote we wanted to take, but a necessary one to move us one step closer to providing Brian Terrys family with answers as to why their son was murdered by guns that were allowed to walk into the hands of criminals.
Despite numerous opportunities, the Department of Justice has refused to cooperate with requests made by Congress for information surrounding the operation. The president further stonewalled the investigation by recently claiming executive privilege over certain Fast & Furious documents and blatantly disregarding the process of checks and balances.
Brian Terrys family deserves answers and well do everything we can to provide them, commented Rep. Walberg following the vote.
Not yet. I'm not ready to puss out and quit.
When they do the movie about Eric Holder going to jail Ron Haris of Barney Miller fame could play the part of Holder.