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.”