NRA pressure could push some Dems to vote contempt for Holder
June 26th, 2012
05:07 PM ET
2 years ago

NRA pressure could push some Dems to vote contempt for Holder

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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Filed under: Congress • Eric Holder • NRA
soundoff (303 Responses)
  1. NameFrank Deery

    Why do you think a bore like Romney is neck to neck with Obama? Because Obama and Holder are inept!

    Carter 2

    June 26, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  2. Carlos

    If democrats are pushed around by they NRA and they vote for contempt, there needs to be recall elections in those districts. It is obvious that repubs have more loyalty to their own party than these democrats do to theirs. Turncoats!!!

    June 26, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  3. duke

    The nation needs better from top to bottom.

    June 26, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  4. patrick

    I agree this guy needs to answer for what has happen. My question is if congress is going to hold him for contempt then the american people should hold Congress in contempt for what they have done though out the years

    June 26, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  5. RightyTighty

    It might do a democrat some good to get on the right side of the law and quit pretending fast & furious is all a right wing conspiracy.

    June 26, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  6. revolting peasant

    My advise would be that all democrats vote in favor. There is a republican majority in the House, so he will be found in contempt either way. They might as well de-politicize the issue by throwing their vote in the hat. Meanwhile, the message to everyone is that the NRA swings the big one with both parties and we do need to be afraid of them.

    June 26, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  7. Namemaximusgary

    As a Republican I am certainly no fan of our President and his minions however, I am disgusted by the NRA dictating how OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS should be voting. The blatant extortion by the NRA makes me sick.

    June 26, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  8. HMBNurse

    hey John, the Bush administration started this !!! the Obama administration ended it !

    June 26, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "If Holder produced the records it would show that fault for the murder of the federal agent would point traight to Obam, that is why they are stonewalling to protect him!!!!!"

    Yep, over 20,000 pages of docs produced, replete with evidence that nothing criminal happened, followed by stilted show-trial type hearings in which Issa cut off anyone saying anything he didn't want to hear...such as experts from within DOJ trying to explain how existing gun laws hamstrung their ability to effectively police this...and then followed by Issa's chief aide offering to drop the whole contempt thing if the assistant AG assigned to the project would resign in disgrace. Yep. Sure sounds like the witchhunt worked. They'll now abuse their majority in the House to throw up a totally partisan contempt vote for appearance's sake (speckled with a couple spineless Dems from red states) and then never pursue it further or take it to court, which is supposed to be the next step. It dies with their symbolic "wel shucksl, we couldn't find anything with which to impeach Obama, so let's do something else" vote.

    June 26, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  10. Ronda in Houston,TX

    Oh, they listen to the NRA, but not the majority of Americans that keep asking where are the jobs? What a bunch of losers! Vote them out in November.

    June 26, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  11. MontanaSon

    CNN Dictionary:

    Moderate: A republican that votes with democrats.
    Defector: A democrat that votes with republicans.

    June 26, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  12. Bootstomper

    NRA what a joke.

    June 26, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  13. SurRy

    No impeachment for the Bush war criminals but the Dems will hang their own out to dry.

    June 26, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  14. The Voice of Reason

    Okay, now we're getting somewhere. CNN has kept its audience in the dark, so let me update you even further.

    This whole investigation is to verify political reasons behind Fast and Furious. Someone authorized ATF to contact a gun dealer to sell over 1400 military rifles to known Mexican drug cartels in hopes that they would be involved in a turf war with another drug cartel, resulting in mass killings. It is believed that such issues would lead to banning sales of those firearms in the U.S. Unfortunately, an American agent, Brian Terry, was killed with one of those rifles. ATF could not keep track of the rifles since they did not put any tracking devices on them. The investigation is to reveal the mastermind of this political plan. Holder appears to be covering up the identify of the person who authorized Fast and Furious. Following standard operating procedure of distract and blame, Holder points to regional ATF, again, not identifying the person who authorized Fast and Furious. It is believed that higher ups in the Justice Department authorized Fast and Furious. This is why the NRA has an interest in this investigation.

    June 26, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  15. georgewashington

    As a life member of the NRA, it is the organization that Congress should be investigating.

    June 26, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  16. Bing

    I will be laughing the rest of the day when that happens. Only a politician would be so spineless. I have a CHL and my life membership in the NRA was heck of any investment. Holding Holders arrogant self in contempt will be quite humorous even more so with spineless libs joining the ranks.

    June 26, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  17. greg

    This was a Bush-era program.
    The irony is that the NRA is all for dumping guns into Mexico and has resisted all efforts at trying to control of the flow of arms south of the border. The NRA's obstinance along with their supporters has resulted in the deaths of many Mexicans and US nationals. I would not surprised if the death toll was in the thousands.

    June 26, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  18. DG

    Why doesn't Issa and the Gun Lobby tell the American people the truth, i.e., "Fast and Furious" started under Bush and the Republicons and that when Holder found out how flawed it was, he stopped the program. Why doesn't Issa call Bush and his Republicon cohorts who supported "Fast and Furious" to testify under oath, about their helping the gun lobby by giving weapons to the drug cartels?

    June 26, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  19. Vinny in Chicago

    The NRA will do anything to protect people's rights to kill.

    June 26, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  20. dsind

    how this liberal confusion workin out for ya?

    June 26, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  21. pdirt

    Not everyone buys the narrative manufactured by the "Ministry of Truth", and it's not hard to see that Holder has been an absolute trainwreck from the onset of this administration. Obama should have thrown him under the bus immediately, but instead has implicated his own complicity by citing Executive Privledge and having the redacted truth concealed. Holders ride had to end sooner or later and now he'll just wait for his pardon. Can Obama pardon himself?

    June 26, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  22. Josh

    I love how people think its a democrats responsibility to do everything Obama says. Could the reason for all this breaking of party lines be that they do not believe in him or the direction he is leading this country? Could be why the republican party has stuck together. They all agree he has and is not leading the country in the right direction. He has done nothing but polarize the country and try to spread his liberal activism. Good on any Dem brave enough to vote with their conscience and ideals.

    June 26, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  23. Kenneth the VI of Minneapolis

    Further evidence that politicians can be bought and paid for!

    June 26, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  24. brian

    rats on a sinking ship

    June 26, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  25. Doug

    The two core NRA arguments are:
    1. Guns don't kill people, people kill people.
    2. Criminals will get their hands on guns no matter what we do. All gun laws do is prevent law abiding citizens from getting guns.

    If these two statements are true, how can they blame this operation for increasing Mexican gun violence? By the NRA's logic, making it easier for cartels to get guns should have absolutely no effect on gun violence.

    June 26, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
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