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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The NRA is a mafia. This is all a scheme to remove the Blue Dogs either from the Democratic column, or from the congress.
The GOP realizes that the presidential race is lost. They are now in damage control and have focused all their attention on the congress.
"If Bush's administration had been caught running a similar operation..." John, I think your memory is a little short. Remember Oliver North and Iran-Contras affair? If not, look it up. It was not even George Bush, it was his Republican Majesty Ronald Reagan, whose administration did that.
This should not surprise anyone. Gun owners vote.
Of course it was all part of the Democratic agenda...let guns fall into criminal's hands to point out we need tougher laws.
When the boarder patrol agent was first killed, Diane Feinstein immediately went to the press calling for more gun control...almost the day it happened. I think the Democrats were waiting for this to happen so they could get on their stump, not realizing, whistle-blowers will call them out!
Just list the names of the Democrats who have been bought and paid for by the NRA...see how soon they lose support.
The only reason the NRA is upset is because it will put a stop to their illegal border gun sales. The NRA is truly anti-American with all the violence they add to our society..
Meh....there are far larger issues here in American to worry about. Oher than the bereaved family of the slain Border Patrol member, NRA members (and gun fanatics), and neo-cons looking to put some egg on Obama's lip, nobody really cares about this anymore....
This country needs to stop the guns period.Stop the sale of guns and the stores who sell them.
So once again a special interest group out of sync with the rest of the American population is able to force congressmen who have no convictions and no spine to vote in a manner that is not in the best interest of the people. Americas government aka the spineless.
Forget contempt of Congress. At the very least, this man should be immediately fired and the subject of a criminal investigation. PEOPLE DIED. On his watch. As a result of an operation carried out by his department! Why is he still Attorney General? Step one of this entire process should have been his removal before we even got to the hearing phase. The arrogance of this Administration is appalling. Not only is he not fired, but the President takes direct action through executive privilege to impede the investigation?
Never let a crises go to waste I think the administration said. Lets remember there were 7K emails that were turned over and 100K emails that talked about the subject of the 7K emails, but which aren't relevant...really?
Holder messed up, there is no getting around that. I applaud democrats for voting with their consciences, rather than sticking to party line rhetoric like the republicans do.
The NRA gun lobby has become more important than the fight to keep American streets safe from Mexican drugs and crime. Did the operation come off without a hitch? No, but the operation was fighting Mexican drug cartels. But what do I expect from republicans, they fought a bloody trillion dollar fraudulent war that I am still working to pay off.
"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; because Holder is black and so is the president and we don't like it." This is what Issa is really saying.
My comment was an opinion based on solid facts and observations that were not permitted to be seen here. Do you see where we are heading as a nation? We have to say all that Tea Party nonense to be "informed."
Dems have all the conviction and backbone of a wet noodle. That's why they are unfit to run the country.
It's pretty scary when the NRA can tell our politicians how to vote, but then all the politicians care about is getting re-elected. The NRA also thinks that people should be allowed to kill other people if they feel their life is threatened. Well frankly, I feel threatened by the NRA but I'm smart enough to know that taking the law into my own hands is not the answer.
7k emails turned over, 100k emails (which are claimed to be protected) that discussed the subject of the 7K emails ....really?
Why would they vote their conscious, they are bought and paid for by special interests on both sides.
Yeah, buckle under the pressure of the likes of Ted Nugent. Stellar!
How 'bout we get the whole truth going back to the beginning (that would be Bush and his crew) before pointing fingers at this prez and his administration. I want to know the truth, not something the GOP has cherry picked to suit them and their agenda.
The program was started under the Bush administration. Of course no one bothered to point that out. Particularly the Cons.
@John: " the fact that Holder outright lied to Congress, on more than one occasion, during this investigation as the reason some Dems might vote to hold him in contempt. "
When did Holder lie? He corrected the record when he found out that the ATF Phoenix field office lied to HIM – and yet, you and Issa and all the other Repub thugs keep twisting the truth to propel your own sick narrative.
Speaking of truth, if Issa wanted to get to the bottom of it, then why hasn't he called anyone from the ATF Phoenix field office to testify about their activities?
Hey NRA: If guns don't kill people, and only people kill people, then it doesn't matter how many guns we send down to Mexico, just like it doesn't matter how many guns we have in the US, right? By your own logic, Holder is not responsible for the death of anyone caused by the sale of guns to Mexicans.
@davey: "Holder is a liability to Obama, the nation needs better."
Any you are another GOP sucker taken in by all the lies spewing from Fox. The GOP is after Holder because of Holder's attention to all the voter suppression the GOP is engaged in.
Stop being a dupe – and start thinking for yourself!
There are still some true Democrats in Congress. They are not part of obama's and hillary's Progressives.
When did special interest groups like the NRA start influencing politics and decisions? Why not just let corporate America pick our leaders? Would it be any different?