House to authorize civil court action in coming Holder contempt vote

When the House votes Thursday on a resolution finding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, it will also consider a related resolution that gives the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee the authority to seek civil court judgments enforcing subpoenas against Holder.

The subpoena resolution, H.Res. 706, gives that committee the authority to “initiate or intervene in judicial proceedings in any federal court of competent jurisdiction” to seek judgments affirming that Holder must “comply with any subpoena” related to the House Republicans’ investigation of the Fast and Furious gun-walking operation.

{mosads}The resolution gives House Republicans another tool to pressure Holder and the Obama administration to hand over Fast and Furious documents that the GOP has been seeking for more than a year. Republicans have charged that Fast and Furious allowed guns to leave the United States, some of which may have been used in the shooting of an American border agent.

{mosads}Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and other Republicans have indicated that civil action against Holder could be needed if he continues to block access to Fast and Furious documents.

In the meantime, the contempt resolution against Holder already makes a criminal referral in the case to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. It instructs the House to certify the committee’s report documenting Holder’s refusal to hand over documents to the U.S. Attorney for D.C., “to the end that Mr. Holder be proceeded against in the manner and form provided by law.”

House Republicans have repeated that votes against Holder will not be needed if the Obama administration agreed to release the documents they seek. However, the administration said last week that it was asserting executive privilege over those documents.

On Wednesday afternoon, the House Rules Committee is expected to approve a rule for floor debate and voting on both the contempt resolution and the civil court resolution, setting up votes on Thursday.

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