Altmire, Critz Vote for Holder Contempt
With a possible endorsement from the National Rifle Association on the line, Reps. Mark Critz (D-Cambria) and Jason Altmire (D-Allegheny) broke with their party to vote in favor of holding U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for his failure to release information regarding the Fast and Furious scandal.
Critz and Altmire, who represent districts with large numbers of NRA members, voted in favor of contempt for Holder after the NRA said it was scoring the vote, making it more likely that they would receive the organization’s endorsement in future elections.
In Critz’s case, the endorsement could come as a boost for his re-election campaign against Republican challenger Keith Rothfus. For Altmire, whose district was absorbed into Critz’s during redistricting, the NRA endorsement could be useful in a future campaign.
In a campaign press release, Critz denounced the handling of the investigation by House Republicans, but nonetheless supported turning over reports of what he called “federal law enforcement misconduct.”
“At the end of the day, Congress has the responsibility to provide effective oversight of government programs and taxpayer funds, and it’s time to put this issue behind us and focus on what the American people really care about – creating jobs and strengthening our economy,” Critz.
For Altmire, the vote to hold Holder in contempt of Congress was a matter of consistency — Altmire originally supported a similar resolution in 2008.
“I believe it would be inconsistent for me to vote against today’s resolution simply because the political tables are now turned,” Altmire said. “I continue to believe that Congress has investigative authority and it is clear that the administration did not provide the requested documents.”
During an interview with Fox News, Holder dismissed the contempt charge as an attempt by House Republicans to score political points against the Obama Administration.
“Today’s vote is the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided — and politically motivated — investigation during an election year,” Holder said. “By advancing it over the past year and a half, Congressman Issa and others have focused on politics over public safety.”
Holder denied knowledge of the sale of weapons to drug cartel members, saying that he disapproved of the method employed by the ATF and deemed Fast and Furious a failed operation. House Republicans remained skeptical, and demanded he turn over 7,000 pages of documents regarding the case. Holder refused, leading to the contempt vote.
The NRA’s involvement case arose after Congress obtained documents stating ATF members called for a system that would have alerted authorities when more than three weapons were purchased from gun shops near the Mexican border. NRA officials allege the scandal is a government conspiracy designed to strengthen the argument for tighter gun-control laws.
Aside from Critz and Altmire, House members from Pennsylvania voted along partisan lines. Chakkah Fattah (D-Phila) joined other House Democrats by refusing to participate in the vote.