by Keith Laing, The Hill Newspaper
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused Republicans on Thursday of holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress to distract voters from issues like negotiations over a new transportation spending bill.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted Wednesday along party lines to place Holder in contempt in a fight over Department of Justice and White House documents about a gun-tracking operation known as “Fast and Furious.”
Calling the vote to place Holder in contempt “shameful display of abuse of power by the Republicans in the House of Representatives,” Pelosi accused GOP lawmakers of using the fight with the attorney general as a “diversion” from pending issues that need to be resolved by the end of the month.
“What you see is [a] diversion, diversionary tactics,” Pelosi said during a news conference at the Capitol. “Let’s not talk about the transportation bill, which is only nine days until it expires. Student loans, which is only nine days until the interest rates — the lower interest rate will expire. Instead of bringing job creating — creating legislation to the floor, the transportation bill, they are holding the attorney general of the United States in contempt of Congress for doing his job.”
Pelosi also accused Republicans of targeting Holder to prevent him from blocking states from purging voters from their registration rolls, which critics have argued is intended to disenfranchise typically-Democratic voters.
Republicans have said Holder should be placed in contempt of Congress because voters have a right to know about the gun operation that resulted in the death of a U.S. agent.
“Congress … has a responsibility to the American people to learn the truth about what happened in Fast and Furious,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who replaced Pelosi at the helm of the lower chamber, said during a news conference of his own Thursday.
“The Obama administration, however, has stonewalled Congress’ legitimate oversight responsibilities to find out how and why it made these false claims,” Boehner continued. “The decision to invoke executive privilege is an admission that White House officials were involved in decisions that misled the Congress, and have covered up the truth. So what is the Obama administration hiding in Fast and Furious?”
Boehner defended the House’s stance in the contentious negotiations of the highway bill Thursday, saying that the GOP wants a deal just as badly as Democrats.
“House Republicans want to get a highway bill done,” Boehner said. “We just want to make sure it’s a bill that includes real reforms to ensure that taxpayer funds are paying for legitimate projects that support economic activity, not planting more flowers in beautification projects around the country.”