The U.S. House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal and civil contempt today with a majority of Democrats walking out on the vote as a sign of solidarity for the embattled Attorney General.
The vote came late Thursday afternoon after several hours of seemingly never-ending, heated partisan debate that included speeches from Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-Calif) and Oversight Committee Ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).
Of the 255 members of Congress voting for the criminal contempt measure 17 were Democrats. Two Republicans, Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) and Scott Riggell (R-Va.), voted against the measure. With the blessing of Minority leader Pelosi, 108 Democrats walked out on the vote.
Democrats voting for the contempt resolution were: Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), John Borrow (D-Ga.), Dan Boren (D-Okla.), Tom Boswell (D-Iowa), Mark Critz (D-Pa.), Ron Kind (D-Wisc.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Bill Owens (D-NY), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Nick Rahall (D-WV), Mike Ross (D-Ark.) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.). Not coincidentally, all of the Democratic members of Congress who voted for the contempt vote face tough reelection races this fall.
In the vote to hold the AG in civil contempt, 258 members voter to hold Holder in contempt with 95 members voting against. In that vote 21 Democrats joined the GOP in voting for the contempt resolution, and 70 Democrats walked out. The passage of the civil contempt resolution will allow Congress to take Holder to federal court for initially lying about the operation that resulted in the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in 2010. Congress is likely to follow through on court action.
In response to the criminal contempt vote Holder said at a press conference in New Orleans, ”Today’s vote is the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided and politically motivated investigation during an election year.
“Instead of trying to correct the problems that lead to a series of flawed law enforcement operations, and instead of helping us find ways to better protect the brave law enforcement agents like Agent Brian Terry, they have lead us to this unnecessary and unwarranted outcome.”
It’s unclear why Holder held his press conference from New Orleans. Previously, the AG was in Florida to speak at League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) during a convention at a Disneyworld Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.