Darrell Issa, the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said Sunday that next week there will be a floor vote holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, and, quite surprisingly, it will be a bipartisan effort.
“I believe they will (vote to hold him in contempt),” he said, “both Republicans and Democrats will vote that — I believe it will be bipartisan.”
Issa doesn’t claim that the White House was behind any cover-up with Fast and Furious, but said that the committee is trying to obtain important documents to help explain why Congress was initially lied to; the Department of Justice said in February 2011 that the government did not knowingly let guns “walk” into Mexico, but later retracted that testimony.
“We, in fact, are simply trying to get to the truth when we were told a lie. It’s about the cover-up. Ultimately, Justice lied to the American people on February 4 (2011), and they didn’t make it right for 10 months.”
House Republicans have been strongly moving forward toward contempt charges after there was a committee contempt vote against Holder this week that passed. The committee had voted after Holder denied permission to view subpoenaed documents pertaining to the Obama administration’s Fast and Furious discussions.
Issa did give Holder an out; he said the vote could be delayed or even “eliminated” if the administration releases the subpoenaed documents. But he wasn’t moving an inch beyond that. “But we have to see the documents first,” he said.
This past week, Obama stonewalled the committee, invoking executive privilege to protect the documents. Meanwhile, House Democrats, panicked at the ripple effect that Fast and Furious could have in November, pleaded with Republicans to take a step back and work out the document dispute without the threat of contempt. Rep. Elijah Cummings, R-Md., ranking Democrat on the oversight committee, tried to paper over the differences:
“I think it’s extremely unfortunate,” he said. “The attorney general has made it clear that he is willing to work with this Congress. I think that we have a duty … at this critical moment to get the documents. I know we can get them. It’s just a matter of sitting down and talking to Holder.”
But for a change, Republicans are done talking. They want action. It’s about time.