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Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GOWDY. Madam Chairwoman, 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 to be used in future crimes. 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 appropriation.

Congress has been patient--indeed too patient in my judgment--and I understand that for some everything is a political exercise, but surely the Department of Justice can rise above petty, partisan politics and comply with a subpoena. The Department of Justice expects others to comply with subpoenas, yet they will not do so themselves. For those watching at home, what would happen to them if they ignored a summons for jury duty? What would happen to them if they ignored a grand jury subpoena? What would happen if a committee of Congress demanded documents and they summarily refused to cooperate? Madam Chairwoman, they would be sanctioned, fined, and probably jailed.

The Department of Justice is not just one more agency within the Federal Government. And the Attorney General is not just one more political appointee put in place to advance one agenda or the other. Lady Justice is blindfolded for a reason. She can see who is in front of her, she just chooses not to. The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer for the United States, and that is a role that is far and beyond politics. Citizens must have confidence in institutions of justice, and they must have confidence in the top law enforcement official in the country. And how can they possibly have either if the Department of Justice is withholding documents?

Madam Chairwoman, it did not have to come to this. It should not have come to this. But there are basic questions the public and Congress have a right to have answered, such as: Who in the Department of Justice approved the tactic of gun walking? Why was the criminal chief advocating for the tactic of gun walking on February 4, 2011, in Mexico, which is the very same day a demonstrably false letter was written to United States Senator Chuck Grassley denying the tactic. On the very same day Lanny Brewer is advocating for it, a letter is sent under Department of Justice letterhead denying the tactic. How did such a demonstrably false letter ever get drafted and sent on DOJ letterhead? Was gun walking alluded to in the wiretapping applications? And if so, who missed it? When the President said he did not approve of Fast and Furious and neither did Eric Holder, how did he know that? He said that in March of 2011.

These are but five questions that we do not have the answer to despite one solid year of asking.

So, Madam Chairwoman, this is not about politics to me. It's about respect for the rule of law. It's about answers. It's about accountability. It's about acceptance of responsibility. I will not, I cannot stand idly by while oversight of this body is ignored. It is time we did the jobs we swore allegiance to the Constitution to do, even if others will not.


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