House Democratic members make remarks during a news conference after a… (Alex Wong / Getty Images )
WASHINGTON -- As the Republican-led House voted to hold Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt on Thursday, Democrats led by the Congressional Black Caucus walked out in protest.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), the minority leader, joined the walkout, moving down the steps of the Capitol arm in arm with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the legendary civil rights leader. In all, 108 Democrats did not vote.
“This is not about oversight, this is about overkill,” Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) said. “There is something evil about using the processes of the House to further political aims.”
Pelosi said that “what is happening on the floor of the House is a misuse of power” and a distraction from her preferred focus of “jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.”
“The Republicans have decided to go after this attorney general, and after him, who’s next?” she asked.
The House voted Thursday to hold Holder in contempt for his refusal to turn over documents related to Fast and Furious, the botched gun-walking operation along the southwestern border.
The vote was the first time a sitting Cabinet secretary had been held in contempt by the House.
Addressing reporters outside, Democratic leaders took turns attacking the Republican-led effort as a political stunt. They walked out as a show of force to oppose the GOP strategy, they said.
And at one point in his remarks, Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) led his colleagues in an impromptu chant of “shame on you,” directed toward Republicans.
Calling the walkout a “magnificent nonviolent protest” against the Republican tactics, Lewis thanked his colleagues. He then called for a moment of silence.