House Votes to Hold AG in Contempt

6/28/2012, 6:38 p.m.

House Republicans essentially ignored the Congressional Black Caucus' (CBC) vow of a boycott Thursday, having proceeded with a vote to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt for terminating the "Fast and Furious Operation," described as an unfortunate operation that began under the Bush Administration.

In an expression of its opposition to partisan activity aimed at Holder, the CBC which had the support of other Democrats as well as Hispanic, Asian Pacific American and Progressive caucuses, maintained that Congress's decision to forge ahead with a vote, had been regarded as a "political stunt," and that a contempt hearing would distract both the Congress in its duty to pass legislation as well as interfere with the Department of Justice in its duty to investigate and pursue real crimes.

The precedent-setting vote -- marking the first time a sitting Cabinet member has been held in contempt -- came after Holder had adamantly refused to hand over nearly 8,000 documents related to the botched gun-tracking operation.

The CBC comprises more than 40 members. Its boycott was reminiscent of similar action taken in 2008 by Republicans after Democrats -- then in control of the House -- voted to hold two top Bush Administration officials in contempt of Congress.

In a letter to supporters this week, the CBC had sought wide-spread unity in its pursuit of justice for Holder, saying that over the past 15 months, the Justice Department had cooperated with the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's requests for information on "Fast and Furious."

The CBC's letter stated in part that:

"In its history, the United States House of Representatives has never held a United States Attorney General, or any other Cabinet official, in contempt. "

Prior to Congress's vote, the CBC had insisted that instead of Republicans being focused on holding Holder in contempt, their time would be better spent creating jobs.