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House votes to hold Lois Lerner in contempt

"House votes to hold Lois Lerner in contempt" Continued...

While movement on the contempt charge by the Democratic-led Justice Department is doubtful, Republicans on Capitol Hill hope to keep the pressure on so the issue remains in the minds of voters heading into this fall’s midterm elections. The Republicans are hoping controversies like this IRS scandal, Obamacare’s error-plagued rollout, and the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, will give the GOP enough of a political edge to regain control of Congress for the final two years of Obama’s presidency. Sometime this week the House will vote to approve a resolution establishing a select committee to investigate the 2012 attack on Americans in Benghazi.

Boehner on Wednesday pledged that this select committee on Benghazi “is not going to be a sideshow, it’s not going to be a circus.” He told reporters it would be a serious investigation.

“When is the administration going to tell the American people the truth? They’ve not told them the truth about Benghazi, they have not told the truth about the IRS, they’ve not told the truth about Fast and Furious,” Boehner said. “One would have to guess if they’re not willing to tell the American people the truth, it must not be very pretty.”

Going on the political offensive, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of House Republicans, moved quickly after Wednesday night’s Lerner vote. The NRCC sent out press releases attacking the most vulnerable House Democrats for opposing the contempt measure.

“Scott Peters refuses to condemn Lois Lerner,” read one release aimed at Rep. Peters, a Democrat from California. “Democrats vote against getting answers and holding the IRS accountable.”

Similar releases went out to 33 other congressional districts held by Democrats. Seeking some political cover, 26 Democrats voted for the measure calling on the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to probe the IRS. But Holder has refused to act on similar requests, calling a special counsel unnecessary.

Not surprisingly, top conservatives applauded the contempt vote. 

Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise said Lerner “abused her position by using the heavy hand of the IRS to target certain civic groups, and then refused to answer for her actions.”

Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., said the contempt vote “is another example of the hoops the Obama administration has forced Congress to jump through in order to get the truth.”

Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee teaches journalism at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, and is the associate dean of the World Journalism Institute.


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