Katie Grant, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today about Republican's partisan contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder and House Democrats' walkout during the vote. Below are his remarks and a link to the video:
Click here to watch the video.
“Mr. Speaker, this is a sad day for the House of Representatives. It is an irresponsible day for the House of Representatives. It is a day in which the Majority party asked us to take an action that has never been taken in the history of America - never once holding a cabinet officer in contempt of the Congress.
“Now, there have been previous contempt citations, some promoted by Democratic committees and some promoted by Republican committees. The average time between Committee action and consideration on the Floor of the House is 87 days – time to reflect on an extraordinarily important action, with consequences beyond the knowledge of anybody sitting here today.
“Now, I want to tell the Chairman, with all due respect, I think this investigation has been extraordinarily superficial. I think the Chairman has failed to call witnesses that could in fact give relevant, cogent testimony on the issues to bear. That ought to be done. That is why I will strongly support the motion of the gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Dingell, who has served here longer than any of the rest of us and who is one of the strongest gun [rights] supporters in this Congress. And what his motion says is: let us reflect, let us bring thoughtful judgment, let us not, every time that there is the opportunity to, choose confrontation over cooperation and consensus. That has been the history of this Congress – confrontation over consensus every time. And America is suffering because of it.
“I ask my friends on the Republican side of the aisle, who know me to be a bipartisan member of this body, that believe in this institution and who care about its actions and the precedent they will set: don't do this. Vote for this motion to refer. Give the Chairman the opportunity he should have taken before to have a full hearing, calling former Attorney General Mukasey, calling the former head of the ATF, calling agents who were personally involved in this proceeding. I venture to say that there are very few members who will vote on this issue who have read the Committee proceedings, very few members who have read the Minority report or the Majority report. Yet they are about to take a historic vote to do what has never been done by any Congress.
“A hundred and eleven Congresses did not take this action. This is not about Republicans or Democrats. This is about our constitution, our country, our respect for a nation of laws not of men. That's what this bill is about. We ought not to be voting as Republicans and Democrats. We ought to be voting as Americans – Americans committed to justice and fair process.
“I regret that I do not believe this Committee has followed that. I believe that the political motivations behind this resolution are clear and pose a clear and present danger to this nation. When we vote on this referral, vote as Americans, not as a partisan issue. You may have the Attorney General in the future. It's not the question of the party of the Attorney General. It is the question of whether or not this Congress is going to provide for equal treatment of all attorneys general and all cabinet officers.
“Let us vote for this motion to refer and give the Committee the opportunity it should take. Let us vote down this motion.
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“On November 1, 2009, our Speaker [Boehner] stood on this Floor outraged about the process. We, too, are outraged about the process. And let me quote [Speaker Boehner:] ‘We will not stand for this. I would ask my House Republican colleagues and those who believe we should be here protecting the American people, protecting our Constitution, not vote on this bill. Let's just get up and leave.’ My colleagues may well follow that advice.”