Congressional Democrats are abandoning their party line en masse to support efforts to hold the administration accountable for Operation Fast and Furious.
In another sign of bipartisanship on Fast and Furious accountability, 142 House Democrats backed an amendment from Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz Wednesday, which prevents the Department of Justice from using taxpayer funds to lie to Congress. Though 41 Democrats voted against it, the bipartisan support could be a sign that frustration over the administration stonewalling on Fast and Furious transcends party lines.
Chaffetz pitched House Democrats in a feisty House floor speech before the vote to join him in demanding accountability. He argued that Attorney General Eric Holder’s failure to comply with the Fast and Furious congressional subpoena is anything but a partisan political fight. He said it’s an issue of separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches, and that all Americans “should be embarrassed by what’s happening in Fast and Furious.”
“If we get stonewalling on the other side of the aisle, without your support, we will do a disservice to this country, we will do a disservice to this body and we will not get to the truth,” Chaffetz said on the House floor on Wednesday. “I promise you, when that becomes a Republican president, I will stand with you and demand the openness and transparency that this body deserves. I’ve done it; I’ve challenged my own party, I have the guts, I have the fortitude to do the right thing.”
Chaffetz challenged the House Democrats to come forward and help him, House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa and others: “This is the test of principle, this is the test of integrity, and when you can’t stand up and take on your own party, that’s a lack of guts,” Chaffetz said. “This Congress has got to stand up for itself and demand that these documents be released.”
In the end, when the House voted, Chaffetz got his bipartisan support.
That support comes on the heels of Indiana Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly’s outspoken public support for Issa’s move to enforce the subpoena Holder has thus far failed to comply with.
Issa served Holder a subpoena on Oct. 12, 2011. Holder has thus far failed to comply with all 22 categories of the subpoena that requires him to provide Congress with documents relating to Fast and Furious. With 13 of the categories, Holder has provided no documents. When it comes to the other nine subpoena categories, Holder is still far from compliant, as TheDC reported late last week.
Other Democrats have refused to defend Holder amid the scandal, and even more have criticized how their own party’s administration has handled it.