By Matthew Boyle
A motion South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy introduced this week to cut Department of Justice employees' salaries by $1 million passed the U.S. House of Representatives by voice vote -- a sign of overwhelming support -- on Tuesday.
While speaking on the House floor about his decision to introduce the amendment, Gowdy said that "for well over a year now, committees of Congress have been trying to answer basic fundamental questions about an ill-conceived, ill-executed firearms operation called Fast and Furious."
"A Border Patrol agent was killed, hundreds of Mexican citizens have been killed, thousands of weapons are unaccounted for and likely, madam chairwoman, are going to be used in future crimes," a visibly irate Gowdy said during his House floor speech. "But the Department of Justice -- and the attorney general specifically -- will not provide documents properly, legitimately requested. So, I am left with no choice, madam chairwoman, but to offer an amendment cutting the Department of Justice's appropriation."
"Madam chairwoman, Congress has been patient. Indeed, too patient in my judgment -- and I understand that for some everything is a political exercise," Gowdy continued. "But, surely, the Department of Justice can rise above petty, partisan politics and comply with a subpoena. The Department of Justice, madam chairwoman, expects others to comply with subpoenas yet they will not do so themselves."
Gowdy had a message for American citizens, too: "For those watching at home, what would happen to them if they ignored a summons for jury duty? What would happen for them if they ignored a grand jury subpoena? What would happen if a committee of Congress demanded documents [from them] and they summarily refused to cooperate?"
Gowdy said that if any ordinary American citizen obstructed subpoenas the way Holder has, they "would be sanctioned, fined and probably jailed."
The Gowdy amendment that passed the House on Tuesday would cut $1 million from the General Administration fund of the Department of Justice. According to Gowdy's congressional office, the General Administration's primary mission is to support the attorney general and his inner circle of senior staffers.
Holder has demonstrably failed to comply with the congressional subpoena House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa served him on Oct. 12, 2011. Holder has failed to comply with all 22 categories of the subpoena that demands he provide documents related to Operation Fast and Furious. With 13 of the categories, Holder has provided no documents. On the other nine subpoena categories, Holder is still far from compliant, as TheDC reported late last week.
As of now, 127 House members have demanded Holder resign or be fired over Fast and Furious, expressed "no confidence" in him via a formal House resolution, or both. Three U.S. senators, two sitting governors and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney join them in demanding Holder's ouster as attorney general.
Though all those demanding Holder resign are Republicans, Democrats are starting to abandon Holder amid this scandal. On Tuesday, Indiana Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly threw his support behind Issa's push to enforce the subpoena of Holder, and other Democrats have started criticizing Holder's failure to comply with the congressional subpoena.