A high-profile vote in the U.S. House to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt today drew a sharp contrast of how Mercer Island and much of the Eastside is represented .
The U.S. House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt of Congress by a vote of 255-67.
No U.S. Attorney General has ever been held in contempt of Congress until today's vote.
Prior to the vote, some House Democrats walked out in protest. All of Washington state's delegation remained and voted on the contempt measure, including Smith who voted 'Nay'. Mercer Island's current U.S. Representative, Dave Reichert, voted 'Aye' (until November's election and swearing in the next session of congress, Reichert is still officially the Island's voice in the U.S. House).
Here's Reichert's statement on the vote:
"As a former police officer, I understand the importance of not only bringing criminals to justice, but also for families of the fallen to have answers. The heart of this case is the loss of U.S. Border Patrol Agent, Brian Terry.
"The pain that his family has suffered is indescribable. They have lost a beloved son and a father. That pain is exacerbated by the knowledge that he was killed with an American gun. The Terry family deserves answers; today’s vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress is about learning the truth about what happened to their son.
"Any time a case involves a law enforcement officer, I consider it personal. In this case, Brian Terry was murdered while on patrol in Arizona. Two “Fast and Furious” guns were recovered at the scene. I have had the heartbreaking duty of sitting down with families of victims, and sharing with them the facts of their loved ones’ deaths. While painful, the closure of “knowing” brings with it palpable relief. This is not political theater. This is about justice and this is about preventing future tragedies. Perhaps most importantly, this case is about bringing peace to the family of a fallen officer."
, running for re-election to the newly drawn 9th Congressional District which now includes Mercer Island, issued this statement this afternoon after the vote:
"Today, for the first time in history, the House of Representatives held a cabinet member in contempt of Congress. This vote achieved nothing, but was done to prove a political point. We are no closer to finding the truth of what happened in 2010, when a U.S. Border Patrol Agent was tragically killed using guns from a botched government operation.
"I am disappointed my Republican colleagues felt it necessary to hold this vote, instead of addressing the real issue of investigating what went wrong, and how we can bring those responsible to justice."
According to the Huffington Post, Republicans cited Holder's refusal to hand over – without any preconditions – documents that could explain why the Obama administration initially denied that a risky "gun-walking" investigative tactic was used in Operation Fast and Furious, which allowed hundreds of guns to be smuggled from Arizona to Mexico.
Fortune Magazine published an investigative story yesterday more supportive of the ATF's point of view that "gun-walking" was never an approved by Holder and the Justice Department as an "operational tactic" and had "never purposefully allowed guns to be illegally trafficked."
Writing for Esquire Magazine, Charles Pierce mocked the contempt vote as a "Triumph for Know-Nothingism".