Texas Democrats Join Congressional Black Caucus Walk-Out to Protest Holder Contempt Vote

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Yesterday, in a pathetic show of partisan hackery and possibly blatant racism, Republicans in the US House of Representatives took a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for doing nothing wrong whatsoever, other than being a Democrat, and possibly an African American, appointed to serve this country by our first African American President. The whole thing was basically a ridiculous and unprecedented political attack spurred on by California Republican Darrell Issa. This is the first time in American history that Congress has imposed this sanction on a sitting member of a president's cabinet.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee released a statement on the contempt vote (reprinted in full below the jump) that was highly critical of the process and politics involved. She wrote, in part:

“The House Leadership's actions are destructive election-year politics pure and simple. It is Republicans following through on their threats to use their authority to try to damage this Administration, enforcing civil rights, voting rights and defending our justice system and the rule of law.”

In a show of solidarity, members of the Congressional Black Caucus led a walk-out during the vote, which was joined by over 100 Democrats. Here's Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi joining some of the CBC members in their march:

Democrats held a press conference to call out Republicans on their obstructionism. It's a sad day for America when the Republican majority in Congress is more concerned with using procedural tactics to score cheap political points than they are with passing legislation or creating jobs to put Americans back to work.

Congressman Charlie Gonzalez, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus was quoted in the New York Times about his support of the walkout:

“We stand united. We understand that Congress has the right to conduct oversight – this is not about the right of Congress to perform oversight. This is about the responsibility and duty of Congress to do it in a way that is fair and just.”

Congressman Lloyd Doggett, who voted against the contempt resolution before joining the walkout, released the following statement:

“Republicans concede that Attorney General Eric Holder did not lie, did not cover-up, and did not participate in the misguided gun operation. In this circumstance, to hold the nation's top law enforcement officer guilty of criminal misconduct is reprehensible.”

This is a naked attempt by Congressional leadership to score cheap political points in an election year. The only thing “Fast and Furious” about this vote was the speed with which Issa rushed it through Congress. Too bad Republicans can't be as effective at passing legislation that creates jobs and helps our economy. These people shouldn't be in charge of a bake sale, let alone Congress.  

Press Statement from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee

Washington, DC  -  Congresswoman Sheila  Jackson Lee,  a  Senior  Member  of  the  House  Judiciary Committee, has  just  hand  delivered  a  letter  signed  by  65  of  her  Democratic  colleagues  asking Speaker  Boehner  to  reconsider  his  decision  to  bring  to  the  Floor  the  Contempt  Citation  against Attorney General Eric Holder. The Congresswoman released the following statement:

“I  have  been  a  Member  of  the  House  Judiciary  Committee  for  quite  some  time  now  and  never  in my years of service have I seen an action as short sighted and partisan as this when it comes to the Attorney General of the United States or any other Cabinet Member of the President of the United States. I have witness hearings on Impeachment of a President, Waco and other procedures but this possible contempt vote is nothing but a partisan political investigation.

“I along with 65 of my colleagues have asked Speaker Boehner to halt this contempt vote. Instead, the  House  of  Representatives  should  be  working  to  create  jobs  and  strengthen  our  middle  class. Congress  must  have  the  ability  to  conduct  meaningful,  responsible  oversight  -  but  tomorrows expected contempt vote fails to meet the standard of what is meaningful or responsible.

“Here  are  some  of  the  facts:  The  Department  of  Justice  has  produced  nearly  8,000  pages  of documents  and  provided  22  DOJ  officials  to  testify  and  do  interviews.  The  Attorney  General  has testified 9 times and continues to offer to provide information – even information beyond the scope of the subpoena – to House Republicans to resolve the issue.

“This  sixteen-month  investigation  found  no  evidence  whatsoever  that  the  Attorney  General  knew about  'gun-walking.'  Fast  and  Furious  was  a  bottom-up  strategy.  There  is  no  evidence  of  White House walking'  started  in  2006  under  the  Bush  Administration.  There  is  evidence  that  former  Bush Attorney  General  Mukasey  –  not  Attorney  General  Holder  –  was  briefed  on  botched  operations. When  Attorney  General  Holder  learned  about  Fast  and  Furious  he  immediately  called  for  an inspector general investigation and issued a directive that 'gun-walking' was an unacceptable tactic.

“The  House  Leadership's  actions  are  destructive  election-year  politics  pure  and  simple.  It  is Republicans  following  through  on  their  threats  to  use  their  authority  to  try  to  damage  this Administration, enforcing civil rights, voting rights and defending our justice system and the rule of law.

“This  kind  of  divisive  politics  hurts  Americans  who  want  their  leaders  focused  on  fixing  real problems  they  face  every  day  and  hurts  law  enforcement  agents  who  are  putting  their  lives  at risk  in  ongoing  investigations  that  could  be  compromised  by  the  Committee's  political  fishing expedition.

“Last  week,  the  Oversight  Committee  voted  along  strictly  partisan  lines  to  adopt  the  Republican contempt  citation,  and  every  amendment  passed  or  failed  on  party-line  votes.  It's  time  for Republicans  to  focus  on  our  nation's  top  priorities:  creating  jobs,  growing  our  economy,  and strengthening our middle class.”

About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She has previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Austin. In addition to serving as the president of Austin Young Democrats, she is also UCONN's #1 fan in Texas.

3 Comments

  1. 17 Dems for Contempt and 21 Dems for Suing Obama in Fed Ct.
    Well 17 Democrats voted in favor of the Criminal Contempt of Congress by AG Holder.  Also 21 Democrats voted to seek outside counsel to sue the Obama Admin in Federal Court for the 'Fast and Furious' docs.  Not clearly Partisan.

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