A House committee voted Thursday to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress, as Republicans escalated their bid to “get to the bottom” of the former IRS official’s role in the political targeting scandal.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 21-12 to hold Lerner in contempt. The vote followed hours of heated debate on the committee.
The contempt measure would next head to the House floor. House Speaker John Boehner predicted earlier this week that unless Lerner agrees to cooperate, the full House will support contempt — from there, the case would likely head to the courts.
“This is not an action I take lightly,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said before the vote. But he said lawmakers “need Ms. Lerner’s testimony to complete our oversight work and bring truth to the American people.”
The vote comes a day after the House Ways and Means Committee voted to refer Lerner’s case to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, the committee claimed Lerner may have violated “one or more criminal statutes.” The Department of Justice is not obligated to take up the committee’s request.