Along a party line 23-17 vote, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt on Wednesday for failing to deliver documents relating to the botched Fast and Furious operation aimed at Mexican drug and gun cartels.
After the committee vote, Republican House leaders announced the resolution will go to the House floor next week for a vote. If it passes, the contempt resolution would be forwarded to a U.S. Attorney.
But if Holder turns over the documents before the scheduled vote, House GOP leadership will give the committee "an opportunity to review in hopes of resolving the issue," House Speaker John Boehner said in a release.
For weeks, the committee, led by Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has been fighting for more documents about the case, which led to the death of a federal agent.
On Wednesday morning, Holder successfully asked the White House to assert executive privilege over the confidential documents, but the legal move does not appear to be enough to stymie the House GOP efforts.
Boehner's office issued a statement challenging why the administration has chosen this course of action, and raised the possibility of a cover-up.
"Until now, everyone believed that the decisions regarding 'Fast and Furious' were confined to the Department of Justice. The White House decision to invoke executive privilege implies that White House officials were either involved in the 'Fast and Furious' operation or the cover-up that followed," asserted Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.
"The Administration has always insisted that wasn't the case," said Steel. "Were they lying, or are they now bending the law to hide the truth?"
Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said that Holder is being held to an "impossible standard" and said he regretted the way the proceedings unfolded.
"[T]he prestige of this Committee has been diminished, and that result should concern us all," Cummings said.
AP Photo: Issa and Cummings during the hearing on Wednesday, before the contempt vote.