Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. testifies on Capitol Hill. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated…)
WASHINGTON — Last-minute talks to stave off a House committee vote finding Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress broke down when the attorney general failed to provide subpoenaed documents to the panel in its ongoing investigation into the ATF’s flawed Fast and Furious gun-tracking.
Holder and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, met for about 20 minutes Tuesday evening in an extraordinary bargaining session in the House majority leader’s Capitol office. They emerged with Issa saying the attorney general told him the Department of Justice “would not be producing” some 1,300 pages of documents the committee had subpoenaed regarding Fast and Furious.
But Holder said after the brief session that Issa rejected his proposal to allow the committee to “review” the documents first, predicting that it would persuade them not go ahead with the contempt vote, now set for 10 a.m. Wednesday.
The constitutional standoff between the two branches of government – the GOP-led House and the Obama administration – likely will end with a vote in favor of contempt, as 23 Republicans sit on the Oversight committee compared to 17 Democrats.
In addition, House Republican leaders have done head counts showing that a House floor vote likely would pass as well.
The disagreement between the two parties has escalated since the details of Fast and Furious became public, with Issa recently grilling Holder during a House Judiciary Committee hearing June 7.