NRA Pressure Likely To Lead Some Democrats To Hold Holder In Contempt
Last week, the National Rifle Association announced that it would be “scoring” this weeks House vote on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, meaning that it will become part of the legislative score that the organization releases on an annual basis. Because of this, speculation has increased that a not insignificant number of House Democrats will join the GOP in holding Holder in contempt:
House Democrats are bracing for defections during Thursday’s vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress after the National Rifle Association (NRA) announced they will be including the vote in their “future candidate evaluations.”
“It is no secret that the NRA does not admire Attorney General Holder,” a letter from the NRA to members of the House of Representatives reads. “For years, we have pointed out his history of anti-second Amendment advocacy and enforcement actions.”
In an effort to persuade Democrats from voting for the contempt citation because of their fear of repercussions from the enormously powerful gun lobby, aides say that House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is actively engaging members of their caucus to encourage them to vote against the measure, something called “whipping” on Capitol Hill.
“I think there are some members that will consider the recommendations of the NRA,” Hoyer said to reporters today. “Whether they think those recommendations are founded or not, I don’t know at this point.”
The number of Democratic defections could reach 31, according to House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), whose committee voted last Wednesday to move the contempt citation to a full House vote.
Issa cites a letter sent from 31 Democrats to the Obama administration last year asking for them to be forthcoming with details of the Fast and Furious gun-walking operation as a template for possible Democratic “yes” votes.
While 31 Democrats voting for the contempt citation on Thursday may be overly optimistic, the sway of the NRA during an election year is a legitimate concern for Democrats. Democrats running in swing districts need the support of organizations like the NRA (or at least not their opposition) to stop more conservative opponents from taking them down in November.
In its letter, the NRA said that one of the reasons it is supporting the contempt vote is because of the belief, prevalent among many on the right, that the entire Fast and Furious operation was designed to create evidence in support of a move for increased gun control. Regardless of the merits of their argument, the practical effect of the NRA’s endorsement of contempt will be interesting to see when the final vote is tallied tomorrow.