|Attorney General Eric Holder|
The House appropriations committee cut millions of dollars from the Department of Justice budget this week. A move which has some Democrats alleging that these cuts are in retaliation to the DOJ’s refusal to release documents in connection with the Fast and Furious gunning walking scandal. Attorney General Eric Holder was called to Capitol Hill to submit testimony on his knowledge of the operation and to release internal documents to Congressional leaders, but the agency has continued to stall.
The Fast and Furious operation, headed by the Phoenix, AZ. office of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, allowed gun sales to Mexican drug cartels in order to track the sellers and purchasers. The gun walking operation resulted in the death of border patrol agent Brian Terry, who was shot and killed by a firearm that ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels after firearms were allowed to “walk” and the firearms were not tracked. Only six of the two-thousand weapons used in the operations were tracked.Republican members of Congress requested internal memos and documents related to the scandal and have been quite vocal about their frustrations that these documents have not been delivered to Congress. Chairman of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA) has outlined a case for contempt over Fast and Furious.
There were thirteen line items cuts passed by the appropriations committee. These cuts not only cut funds from the DOJ's budget but also prohibit the DOJ from using funds allocated for active projects. Some of the restrictions prohibit the use of funds by the Attorney General to originate or join in any lawsuit that seeks to overturn, enjoin, or invalidate immigration enforcement laws in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arizona, Utah, Indiana, Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia. These new cuts also prohibit the use of funds by the DOJ to bring any action against any state for implementation of a state law requiring voter identification.
Republican leaders are not denying that these cuts are related to the DOJ’s stalled efforts in turning over said documents to Congress. These cuts were approved in a vote after Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) vented his frustration about the DOJ’s refusal to release these documents to Congress. "This is not about politics to me," Gowdy said. "This is about respect for the rule of law, it's about answers, it's about accountability, and it’s about acceptance of responsibility. I will not, I cannot, stand idly by while oversight of this body is ignored."
The only Democrat to protest the amendments was Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) "I think that anyone in our country knows that this is a political matter, and that what we need to do is do our actual work here and our work here is to deal with appropriations to figure out what the resources are that the Department of Justice needs to do its work."