The House on Wednesday passed a resolution calling on Attorney General Eric HolderEric H. HolderEric Holder group to sue Georgia over redistricting Eric Holder to Trump: 'Taking a knee is not without precedent' Juan Williams: Momentum builds against gerrymandering MORE to appoint a special counsel for the Internal Revenue Service investigation.

The resolution, passed 250-168, came minutes after the House voted to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress. Twenty-six Democrats voted in favor of it.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteBob GoodlatteOvernight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open House bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Warrantless wiretapping reform legislation circulates on Capitol Hill MORE (R-Va.) said that appointing a special counsel was necessary to ensure a fair investigation of the agency's scrutiny of conservative nonprofits applying for tax-exempt status.

"The administration cannot credibly investigate this matter," Goodlatte said. "The American people deserve to know who ordered the targeting, when the targeting was ordered and why."

The House Ways and Means Committee voted last month to refer Lerner to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. The Justice Department has not  moved on the referral, however. 

Republicans have taken particular issue that one of the key Justice Department lawyers on the IRS case has given thousands of dollars to Democratic causes.

"If we don't have a conflict of interest here, I don't know where we do," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

Democrats said that the vote, like the contempt proceedings, was a political stunt aimed at galvanizing the GOP base ahead of the midterm elections.

"This hallowed institution must not be turned into a campaign arm of either political party. And that's what the House Republicans are exactly doing here," said Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.)

"This is the House of Representatives. Not a political circus," Levin said.

Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson-LeeAnother Democrat takes a knee on House floor to support NFL protests Black lawmaker kneels on House floor in solidarity with athletes House Judiciary Dems want panel to review gun silencer bill MORE (D-Texas) said that House Republicans did not have to resort to a full House vote to request a special counsel.

"Rather than simply writing a letter to the attorney general asking him to appoint a special counsel, which is the time-honored way to do this, the House leadership has resorted to using a resolution that is subject to floor debate and of course C-SPAN coverage, but has no real legal effect," Jackson Lee said.