The House voted Thursday to place Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for not complying with a congressional subpoena.
The measure was passed in a 255-67 vote. Two Republicans voted no on the measure, while 65 Democrats voted no and 108 Democrats didn’t vote. 17 Democrats crossed party lines and voted in favor of the measure. (See full vote results)
The vote was to hold Holder in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents tied to the botched Fast and Furious gun-running sting. The charge refers the dispute to District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen who will then decide whether to file charges against Holder. Most legal analysts do not expect Machen, who is an Obama appointee and ultimately answers to Holder, to take any action.
Some lawmakers were protesting the vote. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called the vote “contemptible” and said she would join members of the Congressional Black Caucus in walking out on the scheduled vote.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus called the vote “silly and detrimental.”
“We don’t want history to record that we participated in something that is so silly and detrimental to one human being,” said Cleaver.
Before the final vote, the House rejected a motion from Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) to recommit the resolution to Issa’s committee. That motion failed 172-251. It was at that point that many Democrats left the chamber.
Despite the vehement disapproval from some Democrats, Republicans pushed forward with the vote, with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) even making an appearance on the floor to speak in favor of the resolution.
“I don’t take this matter lightly, and I frankly hoped it would never come to this, but no Justice Department is above the law, and no Justice Department is above the Constitution, which each of us has sworn an oath to uphold,” said Boehner. “So I ask the members of this body to come together and to support this resolution.”
Speaking on the vote, Holder said, “Today’s vote is the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided — and politically motivated — investigation during an election year. By advancing it over the past year and a half, Congressman Issa and others have focused on politics over public safety.”