Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California have decided to slow Rep. Darrell Issa’s drive to hold the attorney general in contempt over the controversial Fast and Furious program, a move that could infuriate conservatives who have been calling for Holder’s resignation.
The delay could be a month or even longer, according to lawmakers and aides familiar with the issue.
Some within House GOP leadership circles would like Issa to abandon his plan for a committee and floor vote, which was sparked by a 64-page memo last week, which laid out the case for contempt.
They fear negative political fallout from citing the U.S. attorney general with contempt of Congress in an election year.
House GOP leaders are remaining mum on their plans. On Wednesday, Boehner, Cantor and McCarthy met privately — without any staff present — to discuss how to handle what many House Republicans complain is a glacially slow investigation into the scandal, according to several sources with knowledge of the meeting. Under the Fast and Furious program, federal agents allowed roughly 2,000 guns illegally purchased in the United States to “walk” to Mexican drug cartels as part of a botched plan to track down who was behind the purchases. Two U.S. law enforcements agents, as well as dozens of Mexican citizens, were killed by weapons obtained through the program.
Republican leaders are pushing Issa to do more committee work and to build bipartisan support for the contempt resolution before they let it come to the floor for a vote.
But Republican leadership’s resistance to a contempt vote is a major development in the Fast and Furious scandal and one that risks the wrath of the conservative movement. The botched federal program has become a cause célèbre for conservatives, who cite it as an example of what they consider a corrupt and reckless government.