A House panel voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt for failing to cooperate with a congressional inquiry into Operation “Fast and Furious”hours after President Obama asserted executive privilege over related documents.
On a party-line vote, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 23 to 17 to hold Holder in contempt for failing to share documents related to the operation run out of the Phoenix division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives between 2009 and 2011, with the backing of the U.S. attorney in Phoenix. The move makes Holder the first member of Obama’s Cabinet held in contempt by a congressional committee.
The panel’s actions will be reported to the full House, where Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and GOP leaders are expected to schedule a floor vote soon. If passed by the full House, the matter would then move to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald C. Machen Jr., who is an employee of the Justice Department.
Obama’s decision to withhold the documents — his first use of executive privilege in response to a congressional investigation — and the House panel’s vote quickly intensified a long-simmering feud between the White House and Republican lawmakers and set up a clash over the extent of presidential power that may take months to resolve.
UPDATE (by Mary Beth):
Fox News’ Ed Henry tweets that Boehner and Cantor have set the vote for next week:
Just in: Boehner & Cantor announce vote by full House NEXT WEEK on Holder contempt -- can you say .. doubling down?
— Ed Henry (@edhenryTV) June 20, 2012