Washington (CNN) – The number two Democrat in the House signaled on Tuesday that some Democrats could join with Republicans to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress later this week, citing pressure from the National Rifle Association.
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee approved a resolution last week holding Holder in contempt for failing to release documents related to the committee's investigation of the failed gun trafficking operation known as "Fast and Furious." The full House is scheduled to vote on the measure Thursday.
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Some gun rights advocates, including the NRA, maintain that the program that allowed hundreds of weapons, including assault rifles, to go across the border into Mexico was a way for the Obama Administration to press for new gun control laws. Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa said on Sunday he had emails showing the administration planned to point to the operation and push for a "weapons ban or greater reporting."
When asked in his weekly session with reporters to give an estimate of how many Democrats might defect on the vote, Rep Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, replied "I can't."
Hoyer immediately pointed out that the NRA has "weighed in on this issue" and acknowledged "there are some members who will consider the recommendations of the NRA."
"Whether they think those recommendations are founded or not I don't know at this point," Hoyer added.
Democratic leaders are urging rank and file members to stick together and oppose the resolution, according to a senior House Democratic aide. The vote in the committee last week was a party line vote, but that came before the gun lobby formally registered its support for the contempt resolution. Rarely has any pro-gun rights Democrat representing a rural and southern district broken with the NRA's position on key votes, especially in an election year.
The NRA's Executive Director Chris Cox sent a letter to Issa after the committee vote last week supporting his efforts. In the letter Cox writes, "It's no secret that the NRA does not admire Attorney General Holder," adding, "for years we have pointed out his history of anti-Second Amendment advocacy and enforcement actions."
"The reason we support the contempt resolution is the same reason we first called for Attorney General Holder's resignation more than a year ago; the Department's obstruction of congressional oversight of a program that costs lives in support of an anti-gun agenda," the letter explains.
The NRA, which frequently weighs in on congressional races with endorsements and a national grassroots network, also put members on notice that anyone who votes against contempt could face consequences in the fall election. "This is an issue of utmost seriousness and the NRA will consider this vote in our future candidate evaluations."
The top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, Maryland Rep Elijah Cummings, pushed back at Chairman Issa's claim that he had evidence that Operation Fast and Furious was an effort to push for a ban on assault weapons.
"I don't believe that, and I think it's very unfortunate that people are coming up with these theories," Cummings told reporters Tuesday.
Hoyer challenged Issa to produce evidence that linked the failed gun walking program to an effort by the administration to press new gun laws. He also chastised the GOP for moving ahead with the full floor vote on Thursday, calling it "an inevitable conclusion that the rush to judgment, the rush to consideration is again the choosing of confrontation over consensus in the resolution of issues."
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Buncha political whimps. Pressure this!
Issa has a loose screw (and so do any Dems who vote with him).
"Issa suggested that the Obama administration let people die in order to promote gun control and then described Fast and Furious explicitly as part of a larger assault on the Second Amendment"”
Special interests run our Goverment, this really shouldn't be seen as a surprise.
When are they gonna realize that it's not about the party, it's about the country, economy, children, etc.
The President has a kill list and the Attorney General is sending guns down into Mexico by the thousands. More than ever we need to get together (left AND right) and put people in office that will actually fix the mess we're in. Washington would be ashamed at the two choices for 2012, why isn't the rest of America?
I'm not surprised Obama wants to take away guns from the people.
Ah haha. NRA paranoia run wild.
Democrats never vote their conscience, do they CNN? They only vote because of pressure from the NRA. Good God the media will do literally do and say anything to protect Obama and his bathwater drinking sycophants like Holder.
yah the NRA supporting killers all over the country. sign me up
I doubt it but if they do they are a bunch of cowards.
If any Democrats join with the thug Issa, I'll lose what little respect I have left for them. Wussies. C'mon man, toughen up, the GOP is dangerous for America and for democracy, so stick to your convictions and screw the NRA.
How about us pro gun control Democrats who are "furious" that guns were put in the hands of drug cartels by our government, and that the people we voted for are now hypocritically defending this awful policy?
Guns: The problem and solution to all of life's problems.
NRA, oh no these guns killed people
Talk about a conspiracy - it is the NRA's. Witness fascism at work.
Maybe the Democrats voting agaisnt Holder are doing it because "It the right thing to do".
You mean to tell me there are actually democrats with common sense!
I'll believe it when I see it!
NRA special interest = Fox guarding hen house
Seems like Holder is conveniently forgetting some of the weapons they LOST ended up in the hands of cartel members who KILLED A US FEDERAL AGENT IN MEXICO. How ironic that the current "leadership" in our government wants to further restrict the freedoms of Americans while supplying weapons, they want to restrict from law abiding citizen, to Mexican cartel members so they can murder US law enforcement. Please America, forget about skin color this time and vote those morons out.
It's about time the dems stop supporting blatant stonewalling and get to the truth of who knew what on Fast and Furious.
wht not just show the docs? Holder show the docs and this is over.....
THis is going to backfire on Issa, Repubs and Boehner if he lets this vote proceed in the house. Just wait and see.
Imagine that, the NRA joins in the conspiracy theory with conservatives!
The paranoia now coming from this...party...is indicative of how they govern.
They represent every special interest group in the country other than the US citizen group.
To invoke executive privilege on this highly controversial and utterly idiotic scandal is truly breathtaking. The USA should issue an official apology to the people of Mexico. We have failed them on a profound level.
The notion that this program was supported because it would provide grounds for increasing gun control is beyond disturbing. It is barbaric. If the taint of this scandal extends to the White House as implied by the invocation of executive privilege, then this is the scandal of a generation.
Who are all these "NRA whipped men", they ain't got no bells; a bunch of CRY BABIES AND COWARDS.