"The Justice Department did not provide the facts and the information we requested," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on the House floor. In addition, Boehner said, the government "admitted to misleading Congress."
On Thursday, Republicans rejected the Democratic assertion that their fight is simply political in nature.
"I hear the stuff about witch hunt and about politics and it gets me sick," Florida Republican Rep. Rich Nugent said on the House floor. "As a former law enforcement officer, we should be more worried about what lousy policies that Attorney General Holder is covering up that caused the death of one of our own in protecting this country." Nugent invoked the name of border patrol agent Brian Terry, who was killed on Dec. 2010. Weapons related to Fast and Furious were found at his murder scene.
The National Rifle Association, which contends the government used the operation to promote stricter gun control laws, inserted itself into Thursday's vote by warning lawmakers last week that it will use the contempt vote to rate lawmakers. The organization's decision placed added pressure on House Democrats in gun-friendly districts. Hoyer conceded that some members would change their votes accordingly.
The vote had 17 Democrats joining with 238 Republicans to hold the attorney general in contempt.