The US House of Representatives will vote Thursday on whether to hold US Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, House Speaker John Boehner said, setting up a climactic election-year showdown.
"We're going to proceed," Boehner told reporters Wednesday. "We've given them ample opportunity to comply" with congressional requests for the Justice Department to turn over documents linked to botched gun-running Operation Fast and Furious.
Last week, President Barack Obama invoked executive privilege for the first time to withhold documents sought by the House Oversight Committee, angering Republicans, who charged that it pointed to White House involvement in the scandal.
The leader of the Republican-held House said White House staffers met with congressional officials as late as Tuesday to seek a negotiated solution that would provide information to the committee while putting a halt to the unprecedented contempt proceedings against Holder.
"Unfortunately, they're not willing to show the American people the truth about what happened," Boehner said.
"We'd really rather not be here," he added. "We'd really rather have the attorney general and the president work with us to get to the bottom of a very serious issue."
Democrats took to the House floor Wednesday to rail against the partisan nature of what would be an unprecedented floor vote to hold a sitting attorney general in contempt.
Representative Sheila Jackson Lee said she was worried that lawmakers on Thursday will "stop and pause and call each other names" rather than focus on key job-creating legislation that must pass Congress before lawmakers go on a one-week July 4th break.
"I beg of the speaker of this House, do not go down the pathway of contempt," an impassioned Jackson-Lee implored. "I beg of you. Raise this House to a level of dignity."
The House Rules Committee will meet later Wednesday to address the contempt vote, but since it is majority Republican it is likely to merely determine the formalities of the vote and not recommend a cancellation or postponement.