By Jordy Yager - 05/22/12 09:00 AM EDT
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) might not have the votes in his own committee to hold Attorney General Eric HolderEric H. HolderLawyer claims death threats after anti-Black Lives Matter lawsuit Adviser: Obama can’t ‘erase decades’ of racism Airbnb enlists civil rights leaders in discrimination fight MORE in contempt of Congress.
A number of Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are wary of moving forward with Issa’s proposed measure, putting the powerful chairman in an awkward position as he attempts to build support for the move.
When compared with the 16 Republicans on the committee who have actively been speaking in favor of the measure, the silence, lack of outspoken support and desire by these eight GOP caucus members to avoid the issue could be a problem for Issa.
Republican leadership has been hesitant and reluctant to voice its support for Issa’s move, possibly owing to the chairman’s inability to guarantee the measure’s passage in his own committee.
For more than a year, Issa has fervidly investigated the Justice Department’s (DOJ) role in approving controversial “gun walking” tactics used in Operation Fast and Furious. Issa has regularly hinted that the tactics must have been approved at the highest levels of the DOJ and in October issued a second subpoena for thousands of documents and records in an attempt to discover who was involved.
Issa says the DOJ has stopped producing documents for the committee and is violating a congressional subpoena. And earlier this month, he began circulating a draft copy of a resolution that would find Holder in contempt of Congress.
But support for the proposed measure has been slow to build.
With only 16 committee Republicans publicly supporting the resolution — and no Democrats — Issa falls short of the 21 votes he needs to pass it out of the 40-member panel to the House floor.
Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashHouse Freedom Caucus member slows floor business House votes to block Gitmo transfers Republican exodus from Trump grows MORE (R-Mich.) plans to hold off making a decision on whether he will support the measure until Issa puts forward a final version of the resolution and formally introduces it, his office told The Hill. Rep. Frank Guinta’s (R-N.H.) office said the lawmaker declined to comment on whether he supports Issa’s measure.
Reps. Todd Platts (R-Pa.), Mike Turner (R-Ohio), Connie Mack (R-Fla.), Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) and Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) have not responded to repeated requests for comment over the past two weeks.
“I am not going to get into the numbers, but would remind you that getting documents that show what happened with Operation Fast and Furious and how the Justice Department responded to it remains the committee’s focus,” said Frederick Hill in an email.
After spending nearly all of last year quiet on the issue, House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerRepublican Study Committee elders back Harris for chairman Dems to GOP: Help us fix ObamaCare The disorderly order of presidential succession MORE (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorRyan seeks to avoid Boehner fate on omnibus GOPers fear trillion-dollar vote is inevitable Insiders dominate year of the outsider MORE (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) wrote Holder last week to prod him to turn over the thousands of remaining documents requested under Issa’s subpoena.
The Republican leadership’s hesitance to fully back the contempt measure is due in part to the drastic nature of the rarely used maneuver and those members’ desire to make certain all other diplomatic attempts at getting the documents are exhausted.
But their hesitance might also be due to Issa’s outspoken nature. The powerful lawmaker frequently takes to a wide array of cable news shows to lob verbal attacks at Democrats and the White House.
Last week, Issa blasted Holder on Fox News for not complying with his subpoena. He emphasized his attempts to drum up Democratic support for the measure while claiming that every Republican on the committee has backed the resolution.
“Members of my committee on the Republican side, to a person, are totally convinced,” said Issa. “Our case right now, we’re trying to work with the Democrats on the committee.
“We’re trying to make the case across the aisle, and I’m going to give it a little time to try to get Democrats,” he said.
Last June, 31 Democrats sent a letter to President Obama urging him to “instruct the Department of Justice to promptly provide complete answers to all congressional inquiries on this issue.”
But Issa’s aggressive approach to his investigation has made nearly any chance at bipartisanship extremely difficult while simultaneously making some fellow Republicans cautious about being associated with such lambasting.
“Darrell Issa is smart, he can’t be intimidated and he is committed to finding the answers to whatever questions he asks,” Blunt said in a recent interview. “Congress is not very good at oversight as a rule, and I think Congressman Issa’s committed to oversight in a healthy way.”
Asked if Issa has conducted his investigation in a fair way, Blunt said, “I think I’ve said all I’m going to say.”
Rep. Jim Cooper (Tenn.), the only Democratic committee member to sign the June letter to Obama, did not respond to a request for comment.
How members plan to vote on Holder issue
• Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) — chairman
• Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.)
• Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.)
• Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.)
• Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
• Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.)
• Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.)
• Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho)
• Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.)
• Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.)
• Rep. Blake FarentholdBlake FarentholdCongress' new opportunity to protect free speech: Voting to pass SPEAK FREE House leader promises vote on exempting Olympic medals from taxes House panel to vote on exempting Olympic medals from taxes MORE (R-Texas)
• Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.)
• Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.)
• Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) — plans to hold off making his decision until a final draft is put forward
• Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.) — no comment
Did not respond
• Rep. Todd Platts (R-Pa.)
• Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio)
• Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.)
• Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.)
• Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.)
This story was updated at 2 p.m.