Congress voted Thursday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to provide key information pertaining to Operation Fast and Furious, a gun-running program that saw thousands of weapons walk across the Mexican border.
Holders’ contempt citation, after a heated floor debate, marks the first time a sitting Cabinet member had to be held in contempt. The vote was 255-167. Seventeen Democrats broke ranks to vote in favor of contempt, while two Republicans voted against the measure, according to a Fox News report.
“It’s important to remember how we got here,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said during a speech ahead of the vote. “The Justice Department has not provided the facts and information we requested. … It’s our constitutional duty to find out.”
Fast and Furious, a failed gun-running program run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a division of the Justice Department led by Holder, led to the death of a U.S. Border guard. Approximately 1,400 weapons of assorted types remain missing. Mexican cartels and drug runners were the recipient’s of the guns walked across the border.
Democrats, protesting the contempt vote, walked out of the chamber prior to the meeting being called to order.
“What is happening here is shameful," said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who argued House Republicans are more politically motivated in attacking Holder than getting to the bottom of the failed operation, in which at least two of the guns were connected to the fatal shooting of U.S. border agent Brian Terry.
Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. attempted to prolong the investigation by returning the matter to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee – which has already debated the issue and called for the contempt vote.