House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Darrell Issa has scheduled a June 20 vote on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to produce documents related to the investigation into the Fast and Furious operation “gunwalking” scandal, the committee announced this morning.
The Oversight Committee, which is made up of 22 Republicans and 16 Democrats, is expected to vote in favour of contempt, which could lead to a possible floor vote. House Republican leadership has backed up Issa on the contempt vote, saying in a statement today that the “Justice Department is out of excuses.”
Speaking in New York Monday, Issa said he believes there is bipartisan support for the vote, and He predicted that at least 31 Democrats would join Republican leadership if a floor vote is held on the issue.
Those 31 Democrats have asked President Barack Obama to “make sure it was an open and transparent review,” he said. “Clearly, we haven’t gotten the facts.”
“We’re opening up the data that we have to all the members,” Issa added. “So as they start reading the specifics of what we know was known but hidden from Congress and what we’d like to know but have been denied, how many of the Democrats will vote with us?”
The move comes after last week’s hearing that produced a few fiery exchanges between Holder and Issa. over the handling of the botched Fast & Furious operation, in which more than 2,000 guns were allowed to “walk” across the border and into the hands of Mexico’s drug cartels. The House Oversight Committee claims Holder is refusing to provide documents related to the investigation.
“This is like Iran Contra, or like Watergate, or like other embarrassments over the years,” Issa said this morning. “The major embarrassment is the delay in being honest and open about it. It’s not the fact that something really dumb got done. Dumb things happen in government. But when the GSA did dumb things, we saw that once it became public, we got a pretty quick change. Certainly with the Secret Service, we saw an even quicker change.”
A contempt vote in itself is rather unprecedented. Congress has considered whether an Executive Branch official should be held in contempt just four times in the past three decades.