While the House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress on Thursday, a number of House Democrats walked out of the Capitol in protest.
Led by the Congressional Black Caucus, which announced plans to walk out on Wednesday, dozens of Democrats including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made a dramatic exit from the House floor while their colleagues voted to hold the Attorney General in contempt of Congress by a vote of 255-67. The protesting members gathered in front of the Capitol to speak out against the decision.
Earlier Thursday, Pelosi spoke on the House floor about the planned protest, stating that she had initially planned to participate in the vote.
"I urge my colleagues to do what they want as far as walking off," she said. "I, myself, had said I was coming to this floor to vote against this resolution. I thought it was so wrong that there was no question to take the opportunity to vote no. But listening to the debate, almost unbelievable, not that what they’re saying is believable but unbelievable that they would say it."
According to ABC News, approximately 108 Democrats refrained from voting.
HuffPost's Jen Bendery reported Wednesday on the origins of the walk out.
Caucus leaders circulated a letter to Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday night urging them to leave the House floor when the vote comes up. The letter, which was obtained by The Huffington Post, was sent to members of the Hispanic Caucus, the Progressive Caucus, the Asian Pacific American Caucus and others.
"We call upon all members of Congress to stand with us during a press conference on the Capitol Building steps during this appalling series of votes to discuss our nation's most significant priority--creating jobs," reads the letter. "At this critically important time in our nation, we must work as colleagues rather than political enemies."
The letter urges Democrats to stand up for Holder, who is black and who is the first U.S. attorney general in history to be charged with being in contempt of Congress. Republican leaders are moving forward with the vote because they say Holder is withholding certain documents relating to their probe into the Justice Department's botched Fast and Furious operation. Holder has provided 7,600 documents so far and said he can't provide certain others because it would violate confidentiality rules. The White House and congressional Democrats maintain that the GOP-led effort is purely political.
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