The United States House is set to vote today on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt.
House Republicans say Holder and the Obama administration have withheld documents related to the failed Fast and Furious gun walking operation. For its part, the White House claimed executive privilege to keep from turning over the documents, which it says show internal deliberation after the operation became public.
The New York Times reports this sets up a constitutionally charged dispute that could make Holder the first attorney general held in contempt.
The Times adds:
“In early jostling – a debate over the rule governing the final debate later in the day – Republicans repeatedly invoked the death of Brian Terry, a border patrol agent killed in a shootout in December 2010. Two guns that had been purchased by a suspect in the gunrunning case the previous January were found the near the scene.
“‘These contempt charges aren’t about politics,’ said Representative Rich Nugent, Republican of Florida. ‘They aren’t about Attorney General Holder or President Obama or anything else but this: A man died serving his country and we have a right to know what the federal government’s hand was in that. It’s clear this country somehow played a role in his death. We need to root it out, find the cause, and make sure this never, ever happens again.'”
Democrats argued this was an election-year ploy by Republicans. Politico reports that top House Democrats are pushing for a mass walkout. Rep. Jim Clyburn, of South Carolina, told Politico they would stay to vote on the rules governing the vote, but once the voting begins, they will walkout.
“‘We asked for them to just think about what we’re doing and our obligation to this institution, and the fact that we ought not to participate,’ Clyburn said.
“Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said he believes ‘many other members’ will join the walkout, which was first proposed by black Democrats.”
NPR’s Tamara Keith tells us the House will is scheduled to cast its first contempt vote this hour. A second one is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. ET. We’ll update this post once we have more news.
CSPAN is live streaming all the action.