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Public Statements

Recommending that Attorney General Eric Holder Be Held in Contempt

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong and unyielding opposition to resolution recommending that the House find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. This unprecedented resolution, which was passed out of committee on a party-line vote, is nothing more than an attempt by the majority Republican leadership to divert attention from its failure to address the real challenges facing our country.

The hard working and hard pressed people of the 37th Congressional District of California did not send me here to waste precious floor time debating this frivolous and partisan resolution. They want us to work together to create jobs for the unemployed, make education affordable, health care available, and protect the social safety net of Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, and assistance programs to vulnerable families.

I oppose the resolution before us for several reasons:

1. The resolution relates to a document request involving allegations of ``gunwalkng'' in an ATF operation known as ``Operation Fast and Furious,'' but the documents now involved are completely unrelated to how ``gunwalking'' was utilized in the operation.

2. Over the past year, the Justice Department provided thousands of pages of responsive documents to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and has made dozens of officials available for interviews and hearings, and the Attorney General has testified before Congress nine times on this topic.

3. The Committee's investigation identified no evidence that the Attorney General or senior Department officials were aware of gunwalking in Fast and Furious. To the contrary, as soon as the Attorney General became aware of the tactic, he put a halt to it, ordered an IG investigation, and instituted internal reform measures.

4. The House of Representatives has never held an Attorney General in contempt. The only precedent cited in the Issa contempt resolution is a committee contempt vote that took place in the 1990's against former Attorney General Janet Reno. That action was so widely discredited that Speaker Gingrich chose not to bring it to the floor for a vote.

5. During this investigation, the Committee refused every Democratic request for a hearing witness, including the head of ATF--the agency that actually ran the operation. This is not the way to conduct an oversight investigation unless you are interested in partisan political ploys instead of learning the facts.

Mr. Speaker, I must say that am offended that Attorney General Holder, a man of unimpeachable integrity and one who has served this nation with distinction for many years, has been subjected to such demeaning treatment by some in the majority. Even though Attorney General Holder has been forthright and forthcoming, some in this body accuse him of a cover-up or claim he has been obstructive. He has even been called a ``liar'' on national television. These unfounded charges are beyond the pale and reflect more on those who have uttered them that they do our Attorney General, the honorable Eric Holder.

I oppose this politically inspired resolution and urge my colleagues to join me.


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