Last-minute talks to stave off a House committee vote declaring Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress broke down late Tuesday when the attorney general failed to provide subpoenaed documents for the panel’s investigation into the ATF’s flawed Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation.
Holder and Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, met for about 20 minutes in an extraordinary bargaining session in the House majority leader’s Capitol office. They emerged with Issa saying the attorney general told him the Department of Justice “would not be producing” some 1,300 pages of documents the committee had subpoenaed.
But Holder said Issa had rejected his proposal to allow the committee to “review” the documents first, which he predicted would persuade the panel not go ahead with the contempt vote, now set for 10 a.m. EDT Wednesday. Issa contends Holder made no such offer.
The constitutional standoff between the two branches of government — the GOP-led House and the Obama administration — likely will end with a contempt vote, as Republicans outnumber Democrats on the oversight committee 23-17.