GOP accuses Dems of running away from Countrywide vote

House Republicans on Thursday accused their Democratic colleagues of running away from a vote to subpoena embattled mortgage lender Countrywide Financial.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had demanded a vote to subpoena the lender, which is accused of providing discount loans to Democratic members of Congress and others as part of an illicit "VIP" lending program.

According to a release from Issa's office, Democratic committee members abandoned the scheduled 2 p.m. vote, citing a conflict with a Financial Services Committee hearing. Democratic members then walked out of the hearing room.

Issa tweeted his disappointment during the scheduled vote:

In the Oversight GOP staff room waiting with Team Oversight to go out for the cage match/Countrywide VIP mortgage program vote.

Dems aren't showing up!

We have a GOP quorum

But no Dems have shown up. Now votes! Saved by the Bell: the Congressional Years? #tcot

They snuck out the back door!

"The benefits and strategy behind the Countrywide VIP program were reminiscent of the benefits Jack Abramoff bestowed on individuals with political influence. It needs to investigate Countrywide's efforts to buy influence," said Issa in the release.

"Democrats may have skated out of today's vote, but they can rest assured that Republicans will again demand a vote to hold Countrywide accountable," Issa added.

The Republican lawmaker has long favored a sweeping investigation into the troubled company. But the Senate Ethics Committee has cleared the recipients of the loans -- Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) -- of any wrongdoing in the matter.

The Ethics Committee only examined potential wrongdoing by the two senators who fell under their jurisdiction -- it did not cast judgment on the other 25,000 "VIP" loans or on the Countrywide officials who offered the loans.

Some Republicans have also been identified as "VIPs" including George W. Bush's HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson and Bush Postmaster General John Potter.

The office of committee chairman Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) did not respond to a request for comment.

Cross-posted to the Briefing Room