05/11/2014 10:54 am ET Updated May 12, 2014

John Boehner Won't Send Sergeant At Arms To Arrest Lois Lerner

WASHINGTON -- Last week, by a 231-187 vote, the House of Representatives voted to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress.

Lerner has refused to testify about her role in the agency's screening of conservative interest groups for political activity. And she rattled House Republicans when she issued a statement in her defense prior to invoking the Fifth Amendment declining to offer further testimony.

The matter now goes to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, who could bring the issue to court. But a provision within the Constitution would allow also House Republicans to send its sergeant at arms to arrest Lerner and force her back to Congress for a trial.

The extraordinary measure hasn't been used since 1934. And luckily for Lerner, it seems unlikely that House Speaker John Boehner will exercise it any time soon, or so he said on Sunday.

"There is a provision in the Constitution that has never been used. I'm not quite sure that we want to go down that path," Boehner told Maria Bartiromo, on her Fox News show "Sunday Morning Futures."

"So you're not looking to do that?" Bartiromo asked.

"No, it's never been used," Boehner replied.

"Why not?"

"I'm not the historian here. It's never been used, and I'm not sure that it's an appropriate way to go about this," Boehner said. "It is up to [Attorney General] Eric Holder to do his job."

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that the attorney general could impose penalties for contempt of Congress. Rather it would simply elect to prosecute the case.



Speakers Of The House (1920-Present)