House committee holds Holder in contempt of Congress
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With a 23 -17 vote, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform advanced a resolution to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
Wednesday, the Republican-controlled House committee decided to hold Holder in contempt for failing to turn over Justice Department documents surrounding the so-called "Operation Fast and Furious" scandal.
“The ayes have it, and a contempt report is ordered reported to the House," House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, said.
Throughout the five-hour hearing, lawmakers clearly chose sides along party lines. Republicans evoked the name of border agent Brian Terry who was killed by guns tied to the secret gun-running program.
"The Attorney General has had every opportunity in the world to voice his objections and comply, but instead we wait until the last hour and say give us some more time, or you bring out something like executive privilege,” Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, said.
Republicans were outraged with the Obama Administration's decision to step in and assert executive privilege, which blocks Congress from having access to the sought after "Fast and Furious" documents.
The move came after committee leaders failed to reach an agreement with Holder Tuesday night.
"We made what I thought was an extraordinary offer," Holder said Tuesday night.
As republicans accused the Attorney General and President of a cover-up, Democrats stood firmly in support of Holder and the administration calling the attack an election-year witch hunt.
"The administration has delivered over 7,000 pages of documents and might well have delivered some additional documents on this had there been any attempt to find middle ground, but moderation seems to be a dirty word among republicans," Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, said.
"I think we do have to respect the separation of powers here. This whole idea where everybody's saying, ‘Oh, what's he hiding?' Well I don't think he's hiding a damn thing," House Oversight Committee Ranker Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, said.
The recommendation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will go to the full House for a vote.
Speaker John Boehner's office said that vote would occur next week unless a resolution concerning the documents is worked out before then.
The last Cabinet member to be cited by a congressional committee for contempt was Attorney General Janet Reno during President Bill Clinton's administration.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.