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Holder Found in Contempt After Dems Walk Out of Vote

Issa confronted members who said that the vote was about anything but the "very narrow contempt" resolution that focused on obtaining withheld documents in Operation Fast and Furious.

"We've seen no evidence that the White House had anything to do with gun-walking operations," Cummings said, wryly noting that Republicans were "finally going to get the prize they have been seeking for over a year."

Issa, who propped a large photo of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry behind his podium toward the end of the debate, said the resolution wasn't about a witch hunt, but getting to the bottom of Fast and Furious -- "no ifs, no ands, no buts."

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), who represents the district in which the Terry family lives, said he "didn't roll off the cabbage wagon yesterday" and moved to refer the contempt resolution back to the Oversight panel for additional public hearings "so that this investigation can focus on the real issues at hand."

"My constituent Brian Terry wants the truth from the grave," Dingell said.

In response, Issa read from a Terry family statement that said Dingell doesn't represent them in this case, and has never spoken to the family even after their unanswered attempt to get help from Dingell's staff.

"My office is setting up a meeting with the Terry family as soon as I get back to Michigan," Dingell said.

The House defeated Dingell's motion to refer 172-251.

As the lower chamber then moved to the contempt resolution itself, a stream of Democrats, including Pelosi and Hoyer, filed down the center aisle and out the door.

"In their pursuit of power they've lost all sense of principle," Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) said of Republicans, adding that the vote could find Congress with its historically low approval ratings "held in even more contempt than it is now."

"This should be labeled 'fast and foolish' or maybe 'fast and fake,'" said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.).

"This isn't about politics; it's about the constitution," said Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).

Holder gave a statement quickly after the vote, chiding some Republicans for concocting "truly absurd -- truly absurd -- conspiracy theories."

"Today's vote may make for good political theater," he said, but was a "crass effort and grave disservice to the American people."

“As a result of the action taken today by the House, an unnecessary court conflict will ensue," Holder said. "My efforts to resolve this matter short of such a battle were rebuffed by Congressman Issa and his supporters. It’s clear that they were not interested in bringing an end to this dispute or obtaining the information they claimed to seek. Ultimately, their goal was the vote that – with the help of special interests – they now have engineered."