For the first time in history, the House today held a sitting attorney general in contempt of Congress. The final vote, 255-67, reflected the absence of scores of Democrats who walked off the floor in protest rather than vote on whether Attorney General Eric Holder was in contempt.
The stage is now set for a protracted court battle over whether the Justice Department can shield internal documents under executive privilege.
Speaker John Boehner said the contempt vote was necessary to defend Congress’ constitutional oversight authority and get to the bottom of a botched gun-smuggling investigation that played a role in the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
“I don’t take this matter lightly, and I frankly hoped it would never come to this. The House was focused on jobs and the economy. But no Justice Department is above the law,” the Ohio Republican said on the House floor.
But Democratic leadership ripped the GOP for “rushing” into the vote, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) led Members in walking off the floor in protest, refusing to even participate in what they called an “illegitimate” charade.
“What the Republicans are doing with this motion on the floor today is contemptible — even for them — it’s contemptible,” Pelosi said at a briefing earlier in the day.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, along with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, right, and Annette Tilleman-Dick, left, wife for former Rep. Tom Lanots, D-Calif. Clinton was honored with the Tom Lantos Human Rights Prize during a ceremony last week at the Cannon House Office Building. Previous winners include the Dalai Lama and Elie Wiesel.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.