The Senate today unanimously passed an amendment barring taxpayer funds from being used by the Justice Department for undercover “gun walking” programs similar to the controversial program initiated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The program was code named “Fast and Furious.”
While the Senate measure considered symbolic in that it only stops future undercover gun selling by federal law enforcement agents, the amendment was regarded as a rebuke to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder has not cooperated with investigating congressional committees on the growing “Fast and Furious” scandal and the few documents he has released have been heavily redacted or blacked out.
There were reports that a number of Democrats would abandon Holder and vote for the proposal. Fearing possible embarrassment Democratic leaders suggested there would be no opposition to it and agreed to a unanimous vote in favor of the amendment.
Last Sunday Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said he thought the redacted pages was akin to “tampering” with evidence.
In the Fast and Furious case thousands of guns were sold to Mexican drug cartels, many of which were used to cause violence on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border including the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent. ATF agents lost track of the thousands of weapons. Many are believed to be in use by Mexican drug cartels today.
U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a former state Attorney General was the author of the Senate amendment. He said after the vote it was a “first step towards ensuring that such a foolish operation can never be repeated by our own law enforcement.”
Prodding Holder he said “The onus is now on Attorney General Holder to hear not just today’s bipartisan call for answers, but the American people’s demands that Washington be held accountable.”
The actual text said:
No funds made available under this Act shall be used to allow the knowing transfer of firearms to agents of drug cartels where law enforcement personnel of the United States do not continuously monitor or control such firearms at all times.