Led by Black Caucus, House Dems plan walkout during Holder contempt vote

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A walkout by House Democrats to protest what they see as a partisan attempt to embarrass President Barack Obama’s attorney general by holding him in contempt of congress, will include more than just black lawmakers, a Democratic aide tells theGrio.

Politico reported late Wednesday that members of the Congressional Black Caucus plan to walk out of the House chamber ahead of Thursday’s vote, which was prompted by House government oversight chair Darrell Issa, who contends that Holder has been uncooperative in the investigation of a “gun walking” operation called “Fast and Furious.” The operation has been a cause celebre in conservative media, and the National Rifle Association has made a vote to hold Holder in contempt a litmus test for House members in both parties.

The NRA’s leaders contend that “Fast and Furious” was a secret plan to push for increased gun control, by allowing deadly weapons to cross from the U.S. into Mexico, fomenting violence that could turn Americans against guns. Issa has admitted he has no evidence that either Holder or the White House had any knowledge of the program, which began during the George W. Bush administration. (A Fortune Magazine investigation released Wednesday raises doubts about fundamental aspects of the Republican conspiracies surrounding the program.)

Several Republicans have called for Holder to resign — something he has said he will not do — and Democrats have charged that the focus on Holder is purely partisan; something Issa denies. Democrats have cited Republicans’ refusal to call key witnesses and Issa’s admission that he has no evidence of wrongdoing on Holder’s part as evidence of a partisan witch-hunt.

A letter being circulated by the CBC reads in part:

“We adamantly oppose this partisan attack and refuse to participate in any vote that would tarnish the image of Congress or of an attorney general who has done nothing but work tirelessly to protect the rights of the American people.  We must reflect upon why we are elected to this body and choose now to stand up for justice,” the CBC members wrote in a copy of the letter obtained by POLITICO. “ We call upon all members of Congress to stand with us during a press conference on the Capitol Building steps during this appalling series of votes to discuss our nation’s most significant priority–creating jobs.  At this critically important time in our nation, we must work as colleagues rather than political enemies.” {Full text of the letter at the end of this post)

The aide, who spoke to theGrio on condition of anonymity, said members of the CBC have been in talks with the Democratic Hispanic Caucus, the House’s Asian-American Caucus and the Progressive Caucus in order to broaden support for the walk-out. Meetings are reportedly planned between supporters of the walk-out and House Democratic leaders, in hopes of getting as many Democrats as possible to participate.