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Tipsheet

Will the House Vote to Hold AG Garland in Contempt or Not?

AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough

Last month, House Republicans announced that they planned to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt for his refusal to turn over audio files from interviews that Special Counsel Robert Hur conducted with President Joe Biden. While House leadership is looking to bring such a proposal for a vote on Wednesday, after it cleared the House Rules Committee on Tuesday, such a move may already be dead and may even be pulled.

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As Axios reported on Tuesday night, such a vote "is in severe danger of being pulled by GOP leadership" due to a lack of votes. The piece cited "two House GOP lawmakers and multiple sources." A source who works with House Republicans also expressed being "worried" to Townhall.

The report emphasizes how House Republicans can only afford to lose so many of their own with how narrow their majority is. Another point worth highlighting is the position Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) finds himself in:

Why it matters: Canceling the vote would be a letdown for conservatives who have pounded the table for the vote — and showcases the weakness of Speaker Mike Johnson's (R-La.) thin House majority.

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The big picture: Republicans are worried that the contempt vote failing could hurt their legal chances of obtaining the tapes in court, one senior House Republican said.

  • Moderates Republicans had raised concerns about holding in Garland in contempt, which is a tough vote for many of them in politically divided districts to take ahead of the November elections.
  • Scrutiny of Garland and the DOJ has been one of House Republicans' top priorities.

The bottom line: Johnson's two-vote majority makes any highly political vote a tough lift for GOP leadership.

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House Republicans may say that "[s]crutiny of Garland and the DOJ has been one of House Republicans' top priorities," but that may be increasingly hard for voters to believe if lawmakers don't actually act on it.

Further, it's not as if having such a narrow majority isn't the fault of House Republicans. This 118th Congress has seen many resignations, with some seats being forced to remain vacant due to the timing of when the member left. Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was just recently replaced by Rep. Vincent Fong, another Republican. Earlier on Tuesday, Republican Michael Rulli was elected in a special election to replace former Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), who also resigned. 

But, Republicans also forced out one of their own last December, by expelling now former Rep. George Santos (R-NY). He was replaced by a Democrat, Rep. Tom Suozzi.

We've also seen failed votes when it comes to an inability to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) on the first try last November, or impeach Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in February. Both votes prevailed on the second try.

There are still members eager to take the vote to hold Garland in contempt. In addition to sharing the Axios report, Rep. Mike Collins (GA) also posted a call for such a vote so as to see where members stand.

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Garland appeared before the House Judiciary Committee last Tuesday, where he doubled down on his refusal to turn over the audio and also dismissed concerns about the Department of Justice (DOJ) colluding with DA Alvin Bragg to prosecute former and potentially future President Donald Trump as a "conspiracy theory." Even more recently, Garland whined about the DOJ being held accountable in an op-ed for The Washington Post. 


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