By Representative Trey Gowdy
Congress has a constitutional responsibility to exercise oversight over the Executive Branch, and for more than a year we've been attempting to fulfill that with respect to the Justice Department's "Fast and Furious" scandal.
Yet Justice -- despite repeated requests for documents, multiple appearances before various committees and more than ample time -- has failed to answer fundamental questions about this ill-conceived, ill-executed firearms operation.
So, on Tuesday, I introduced an amendment to cut the department's General Administration Fund by $1 million; it passed on a voice vote. The cut is aimed at Attorney General Eric Holder and his key lieutenants; if the AG and his staff won't cooperate with our requests, then they don't deserve their salaries.
Congress' investigation has gone on for more than a year and a half, yet Justice has only complied with 12 of our 22 subpoena requests for documents. The American people deserve answers; Congress deserves the information we asked for.
As a former prosecutor, I take no joy in moving to cut appropriations for Justice, but it's about respect for the rule of law and holding those in power to the same standard as those not in power.
What would happen to you if you ignored a jury summons, failed to comply with a grand-jury subpoena or ignored a lawful demand for documents from a congressional committee? You'd be sanctioned, held in contempt, and likely jailed.
Thousands of weapons went to Mexican drug cartels with the full knowledge and acquiescence of federal law enforcement. A US Border Patrol agent is dead. Hundreds of innocent Mexican citizens are dead. Sadly, more mayhem and violence are undoubtedly on the horizon because these weapons are largely unaccounted for.
Still, when I am asked legitimate questions about Fast and Furious, I can't provide my constituents with the answers because Justice won't provide the documents.
For us to survive and flourish as a republic, the citizens must have confidence in the institutions of justice and in the nation's top law-enforcement official. How can they have either if Justice is withholding documents, ignoring legal process and providing no answers -- even as lives have been lost and will continue to be lost as a result of this botched operation?
It shouldn't have to come down to budget cuts and contempt of Congress resolutions. But we must do the job we swore allegiance to the Constitution to do, even if others won't.