In a move that appears to target Attorney General Eric Holder, Republican Congressman Blake Farenthold of Texas introduced a bill Tuesday to prohibit any federal employee who is held in contempt of Congress from receiving his or her salary.
“The American people should not be footing the bill for federal employees who stonewall Congress or rewarding government officials’ bad behavior,” Farenthold said in a written statement announcing the bill. “If the average American failed to do his or her job, he or she would hardly be rewarded. High-ranking government officials should be treated no differently than everyone else.”
In 2012, the House of Representatives voted 255 to 67 – with 17 Democrats voting in favor – to hold Holder in contempt of Congress for his failure to disclose Justice Department documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal. It was the first time in American history that Congress had taken such an action against a sitting member of a president’s cabinet.
Holder appeared before the House Judiciary Committee last week, where he engaged in a heated back-and-forth with Republicans on the panel over the contempt vote. “You don’t want to go there, buddy,” Holder told a congressman in response to a comment about being held in contempt. “You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me. I think it was inappropriate. I think it was unjust. But never think that was not a big deal to me. Don’t ever think that.”
Congressman Farenthold alluded to the introduction of his Contempt Act at the same hearing last week. “If he [Holder] continues to refuse to resign, my bill would at least prevent hardworking American taxpayers from paying his salary,” he said.
It is unclear if the legislation will make it to the House floor for a vote, and even if it passes, it is unlikely that the Democratic-controlled Senate will take up the bill.
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