Four House Dems back measure to place Holder in contempt

At least four Democrats say they will vote Thursday in favor of placing Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.

Democratic Reps. John Barrow (Ga.), Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Nick Rahall (W.Va.) will all vote in favor of contempt in addition to Rep. Jim Matheson (Utah) when the measure comes to the House floor on Thursday. 

The vote is expected to generally be a party-line vote, but one report by Fox News on Wednesday said as many as 20 Democrats could break with President Obama and support the measure. 

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Republicans are moving forward with the vote because they say Holder has refused to hand over documents dealing with the Justice Department’s handling of the botched “Fast and Furious” operation.

In announcing his decision, Barrow criticized Holder for withholding the documents. 

“While Republicans and Democrats argue over the scope of the people's right to know what happened, the attorney general has decided to withhold relevant documents,” Barrow said. 

“The only way to get to the bottom of what happened is for the Department of Justice to turn over the remaining documents, so that we can work together to ensure this tragedy never happens again.”

Barrow is facing a tough reelection fight this year in a district that leans Republican, according to The Hill’s race ratings.

A spokesman for Peterson told The Hill that the Minnesota Democrat also plans to support the contempt measure. Rahall's office also confirmed he would vote in favor of placing Holder in contempt. 

Rahall is usually a GOP target given the nature of his district, while Peterson is generally considered safe this year. 

Matheson became the first Democrat to break ranks on Tuesday, announcing plans to vote for the contempt measure just hours after House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) told reporters he expects some Democrats to support the contempt resolution because the National Rifle Association (NRA) is scoring the vote.

The House is scheduled to vote on the measure on Thursday, even as last-ditch efforts to iron out an agreement between the Justice Department, the White House and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) — the lead congressional investigator of the gun-tracking program — fell apart on Tuesday.

All four Democrats were among the 31 who sent a letter to Obama last year expressing their grave concern over the "gun-walking" tactics used in Fast and Furious and the administration's handling of the fallout after becoming aware of them. 

Last week, the president asserted executive privilege over the documents in question, which could set Congress up for a legal battle in the courts if the House passes the contempt resolution. 

— Jennifer Smola contributed to this article.

This story was posted at 11:40 a.m. and last updated at 3:52 p.m.