BY: PETE KASPEROWICZ | THE HILL
The House Wednesday evening voted overwhelmingly to prevent the Justice Department from using taxpayer funds to lie to Congress.
The vote came in a Wednesday evening series of amendments to a bill, H.R. 5326, funding the Justice Department for 2013. Members approved the language in a 381-41 vote; all 41 "no" votes came from Democrats, although 142 Democrats voted with Republicans in support of the amendment.
The vote reflects the ongoing frustration Republicans — and apparently some Democrats — have with Attorney General Eric Holder.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) offered the novel funding limitation amendment earlier in the day. The amendment was a reaction to arguments that Justice lied when it told Congress in February 2011 that it had no involvement in a gun-walking program called Operation Fast and Furious.
That program allowed guns to enter Mexico and fall into the hands of drug cartel members. Justice later retracted the 2011 letter and acknowledged that the so-called Fast and Furious program was flawed, but Republicans have since argued that Attorney General Eric Holder has stonewalled their requests for more information about the operation.
"What is totally and wholly unacceptable … is that the Department of Justice would knowingly and willfully present a letter back to Congress on Feb. 4 , that was so inaccurate and so wrong," Chaffetz said during debate. "They basically lied to Congress, and it took months and months and months and months to get to the point where they finally had to rescind that letter."
Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) also accused Holder and others who "stonewall at best, and lie more likely," and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) fumed that no one has been punished for the scandal.
"There hasn’t been a demotion, there hasn’t been a firing, there hasn’t been a sanction, there hasn’t been a frowny-face on a performance evaluation," he said.
The House also approved other controversial funding limitation amendments, including one to prevent Justice from defending the 2010 healthcare law, and to prevent Justice from suing states over over voter ID laws.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) proposed the amendment to block the use of funds in the bill to defend the 2010 healthcare law in court. That amendment was approved in a partisan 229-194 vote.
Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) offered language preventing Justice from taking actions against states that require photo identification at voting booths. His language was added in a 232-190 vote.
An amendment from Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) to prevent Justice from spending money to litigate against states on behalf of the National Labor Relations Board in cases relating to secret ballots in union elections was approved 232-192. And, language from Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) to prevent Justice from being party to court settlements involving the removal of funds from mortgage backed securities trusts was approved 238-185.Back to News