House holds Eric Holder in contempt: What happens to him now? (+video)
Republicans say Attorney General Eric Holder is withholding documents that could show a coverup. Democrats say the investigation is a witch hunt. The outcome? Likely, more delay.
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Mr. Hoyer, the Democratic whip, pointed out that Congress’s historical average time between a committee vote on contempt and a vote being held on the House floor was 87 days.Skip to next paragraph
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That gives “time to reflect on an extraordinarily important action with consequences beyond the knowledge of anybody sitting here today,” Hoyer argued on the floor. “Now, I want to tell the Chairman with all due respect that I think this investigation has been all too superficial.”
Less than two weeks have elapsed since the Government Oversight committee voted to hold Holder in contempt.
Republicans argued that no matter the timing, Mr. Obama’s call for executive privilege – his first – was not justified and deserved a contempt vote.
“This is a question of whether a Congressional subpoena means anything or whether it can be ignored by the highest legal official in the land,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan (R) of South Carolina, in a statement. “If Congress allows the Attorney General to ignore our oversight ability, then one of the most important checks on unbridled executive power is taken from the legislative branch.”
The issue touched a deeply personal chord for both parties.
“My message to my colleagues and others who have fought for answers: We are still fighting for the truth and accountability – for the family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, for whistleblowers who have faced retaliation, and for countless victims of Operation Fast and Furious in Mexico,” said Mr. Issa, who appeared in front of an image of Mr. Terry during his closing remarks on the House floor.
Issa’s main antagonist during the Fast and Furious drama, the ranking member of the House Oversight committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) of Maryland, recently lost his nephew to gun violence at Old Dominion University in Virginia. Mr. Cummings represents Baltimore City, among other areas in Eastern Maryland, where “firearms and death is something I deal with on an almost daily basis,” he said earlier this week.
But deep personal connections did not bridge the deep divide of Thursday’s floor action.
“If we do this,” said Rep. Alcee Hastings (D) of Florida during a Rules Committee hearing on the contempt vote Wednesday, “history will judge us harshly.”
The question, of course, is which side would face harsher judgment.