House panel sets up contempt vote for Holder next week

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has set up a vote next week on a report holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for failing to comply with a House investigation into the “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking operation.

The action has been contemplated for weeks, and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) threw his support behind the politically sensitive move in a statement on Monday.

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“The Justice Department is out of excuses,” Boehner said. “Either the Justice Department turns over the information requested, or Congress will have no choice but to move forward with holding the Attorney General in contempt for obstructing an ongoing investigation.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) also weighed in with his support. 

"Assuming Attorney General Holder continues to stonewall, we will have no choice but to hold him in contempt for his failure to provide the documents necessary to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again," Cantor said.

Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Republicans on his panel argue Holder has failed to hand over documents related to the gun-tracking operation.

Issa told Fox News on Monday that he was hopeful the warning of a contempt vote would show Holder Republicans are serious. "Ultimately it’s not about going to contempt, it’s about getting cooperation and legitimate discovery and in this case they are not asserting privilege, they’re simply not giving the documents the American people deserve," Issa said. 

In Operation Fast and Furious, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartel operations in the hope of tracking them to wanted criminals and then making big arrests. They lost track of hundreds of the firearms.

One of the guns tracked through the program was found at the scene of ATF agent Brian Terry's killing.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) noted that President Obama hasn't used executive privilege to argue against the release of documents, "presumably because the vast majority of the documents at issue aren't related to communications with the White House."

He said Justice's refusal to cooperate more fully was forcing the House panel's hand. 

—This story posted at 10:08 and last updated at 2:02 p.m.