Congressman Jim Gerlach (PA-6th District) issued the following statement after the House approved two measures holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress:
"I voted in favor of these resolutions because I believe it is critically important for the Justice Department to be totally transparent about an operation that ultimately may have played a role in the death of a law enforcement officer in the line of duty. The family of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry deserves the truth.
Regrettably, the Attorney General has ignored more than 50 letters and two Congressional subpoenas requesting documents that would help the family and the American public fully understand the Justice Department's actions and decision-making. These votes occurred solely because the Attorney General has refused to be forthcoming with information necessary for Congress to carry out its constitutional obligation to provide responsible oversight of the Executive branch."
The House approved two measures on Thursday. The first, H. Res. 711, approved by a vote of 255-67, found the Attorney General in contempt for ignoring Congressional subpoenas for information related to a Justice Department investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms began Fast and Furious in Arizona in 2009 as an investigation into gun-smuggling operations involving Mexican drug cartels along the U.S. border.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee estimates that the operation resulted in more than 2,000 guns being sent across the U.S.-Mexico border. The Justice Department had planned to track these weapons in hopes of capturing gun smugglers and people buying weapons illegally.
In December 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed after a confrontation with drug smugglers. Two of the guns recovered at the scene of Agent Terry's murder were being tracked by U.S. officials as part of the Fast and Furious program. Initially, the White House denied that the Justice Department had been involved in Fast and Furious, but the Administration retracted that denial in December 2011.
The second measure, H. Res. 706, approved by a vote of 258-95, authorized the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to initiate or intervene in civil court proceedings to enforce certain subpoenas.