Nearly two-dozen Republicans are backing legislation stating that Congress “has lost confidence” in Eric Holder to continue as attorney general.
The resolution, introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and supported by 21 GOP co-sponsors, resolves “that it is the sense of the House of Representatives that Congress has lost confidence in the Attorney General of the United States.”
Gosar pointed to Holder’s role, as the head of the Justice Department, in overseeing a botched gun-tracking operation called Fast and Furious as the main reason for the diminished level of confidence.
He said he hopes the resolution would bring an added level of public awareness to the debate over whether Holder is fit to serve as the country’s top law enforcement officer.
“By filing this resolution, we are anticipating a debate on the House floor and a floor vote,” Gosar said in a news release. “This will bring needed inquiry, exposure and transparency to the issue itself.”
An aide on the House Judiciary Committee, where the resolution was referred to be marked up, said the panel did not have plans to consider the measure before the end of the year. It has not finalized its legislative schedule for next year, the aide said.
Republicans have been investigating and heavily scrutinizing Holder and the Obama administration over the operation for the majority of the year. Both Holder and Obama have said they did not authorize Fast and Furious and that they will hold those who did responsible.
Republicans said the operation — which oversaw the sale of about 2,000 weapons to known and suspected straw buyers for Mexican drug cartels — is indicative of an incompetent agency and that Holder must take responsibility for it because it occured under his watch.
“It is imperative that the citizens of our nation have confidence in our Attorney General,” Gosar said in the release. “After months of evasive answers, silence and outright lies, it is time that Congress speak up on behalf of the many people who have or will fall victims to the firearms in the flawed gunrunning operation Fast & Furious.”
The resolution is backed by Republican Reps. Trent Franks (Ariz.), David Schweikert (Ariz.), Jeff Duncan (S.C.), Connie Mack (Fla.), Paul Broun (Ga.), Lynn Jenkins (Kan.), Gus Bilirakis (Fla.), Kenny Marchant (Texas), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), Blake Farenthold (Texas), Renee Ellmers (N.C.), Jeff Landry (La.), Dan Burton (Ind.), Alan Nunnelee (Miss.), Francisco Canseco (Texas), Vicky Hartzler (Mo.), Bobby Schilling (Ill.), Steve Pearce (N.M.), Bill Johnson (Ohio), Walter Jones (N.C.) and Allen West (Fla.).
Holder came under fire last week before the Judiciary Committee over the operation, with Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) suggesting that impeachment charges could be brought against the attorney general if Republicans continue to feel as though the administration is blocking their attempts to get more information about the program.
Holder maintains that DOJ has complied with congressional subpoenas and requests for information as much as possible, citing several ongoing criminal cases involved with the operation and an independent investigation by the DOJ’s inspector general that has been under way for nine months.
One of the issues on which Republicans have focused their anger is a February letter from the DOJ to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), in which the agency stated that it did not let guns “walk” — willingly enter the hands of suspected criminals with no plan to intercept or repossess them.
Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have testified, and documents uncovered by congressional investigators have revealed, that the operation did in fact let guns “walk,” a practice that began on a smaller scale in a separate operation during President George W. Bush’s administration.
In an unprecedented move, Holder turned over scores of internal DOJ emails to lawmakers earlier this month in an attempt to show that the agency was acting on information that it believed true. Holder has said repeatedly that DOJ officials did not intentionally mislead members of Congress.
According to the Daily Caller, 56 lawmakers have called for Holder’s resignation.