Chaffetz to Congress: Where Are Your Guts on Fast and Furious?

Katie Pavlich

5/10/2012 12:00:00 PM - Katie Pavlich

Last night the House of Representatives passed the Fast and Furious Accountability Amendment as part of the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Act. The amendment passed by a vote of 381 to 41 and was sponsored by Republican Reps. Jason Chaffetz, Paul Gosar and Blake Farenthold. Rep. Trey Gowdy wasn't a co-sponsor, but offered strong support for the amendment which prohibits the Department of justice from spending money to cover-up the Fast and Furious scandal. "Covering up" includes making materially false statements, or crafting documents that contain false or fraudulent information.

During debate on the amendment, Chaffetz called on Democrats to step up and hold the Justice Department accountable and to demand documents requested from DOJ about Fast and Furious be provided to Congress.

My challenge to members on both sides of the aisle is to stand up and have the integrity to say that we have a dead U.S. agent; we have a department of justice that lied to congress. Where are the guts in this body to stand up and say, "we're not going to put up with that." We're going to demand these documents be provided to the congress. We know because the inspector general within the Department of Justice has said they have 80,000 documents, they've given congress about 7,000 of those documents. This is the test of principle, this is the test of integrity, and when you can't stand up and take on your own party, that's a lack of guts. This congress has got to stand up for itself, and demand that these documents be released. I would encourage members on both sides of the aisle, at the very least, vote for this amendment. I can't imagine any reason why anybody would deny the passage of this amendment. We're not going to allow taxpayer dollars to be used to lie to congress, unfortunately we have been lied to. That's the reason why we have to do this amendment. It's embarrassing that you have to even get to this point, but, madam chair, Brian Terry's family expected the integrity of -- expected, the integrity of this body demands and we cannot rest until we get to the bottom of that, regardless whether it's republican or democrat.

Chaffetz's remarks came just one day after Chairman of the House Oversight Committe Darrell Issa sent a letter to Democrat Rep. Jason Altmire reminding him of the bipartisan push for Fast and Furious accountability a year ago. 

"On June 3, 2011, you and 30 fellow House Democrats wrote to the President 'to express [your] serious concerns about the Administration's response' to the congressional investigation into Operation Fast and furious. In your letter, you urged the President to 'instruct the Department of Justice to promptly provide complete answers to all Congressional inquiries on the issue.' Eleven months later, the Department of Justice has failed to provide those complete answers," the letter read. "Given the special interest expressed in your prior letter, I now write enclosing a package of documents sent to Members of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last week. This package includes a a draft contempt report detailing the Justice Department's refusal to cooperate with the congressional inquiry into Fast and Furious. You will find the Departments' actions fail woefully short of full compliance with a congressional subpoena. Thank you for your continued support of our efforts to fulfill our shared constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch."

Issa has given Eric Holder the option avoid contempt charges so long as he complies with a congressional subpoena issued back in October 2011.

 

President Obama has done anything but hold his attorney general accountable for Fast and Furious. In fact, Obama has said he has "full faith and confidence" in the way Holder has handled things. Not to mention, Obama has threatened to veto the latest House budget because it doesn't include funding to enforce DOJ's new long gun reporting/gun control measure. The measure was issued after DOJ used law abiding gun shop owners in southern border states as a scape goat for their deadly Operation Fast and Furious and requires dealers report the sale of one or more semi-automatic rifles larger than a .22-caliber to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Unfortunately, according to the Washington Examiner, the House budget does include a funding increase for ATF, the agency DOJ used to carry out gunwalking during Fast and Furious.

House appropriators are set to give the agency that handled Operation Fast and Furious the exact funding requested by President Obama, which is an increase in funding since last year.

"The legislation contains $1.2 billion for the [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] ATF, $1 million above fiscal year 2012 and the same as the [president's] request," the House Appropriations Committee explained last month.

President Obama has threatened to veto this appropriations bill because, among other things, it limits the gun control authority of ATF.

"Preventing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from requiring licensed firearms dealers in four border States to report information on the sale of multiple rifles or shotguns to the same person would hamper efforts to address the problem of illegal gun trafficking along the Southwest Border and in Mexico," the Executive Office of the President said in a statement on the legislation.

Today, Rep. Gosar, who drafted a "no confidence" resolution against Holder that now has 111 co-sponsors, will lead a Special Order on the House Floor in an effort to open the Fast and Furious debate to the entire Congress.

The bottom line: Brian Terry is dead, Jaime Zapata is dead, hundreds if not thousands of Mexicans are dead as a result of Fast and Furious. We need answers.