House passes measure to cut Justice salaries until questions are answered

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. Oversight Committee

The House of Representatives has passed a motion by voice vote to cut $1 million from the Justice Department’s general administration fund until officials fully answers the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s questions regarding the infamous Fast and Furious gunrunning operation that lasted from 2006 to 2011.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., introduced the amendment to cut the salaries of top Justice officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, whom the Oversight Committee has sought to hold in contempt of Congress for withholding information. Justice’s general administration fund encompasses four units, including department leadership, public affairs and the Office of Professional Responsibility. It supports the salaries of low-level staff members as well as senior executives.

A spokesman for Gowdy’s office said the cut is aimed at senior-level officials.

“Rep. Gowdy does not hold low-level employees accountable and is not going after their salaries. The Justice Department must administer the cut, and if DOJ chooses to punish the low-level staff, that is a DOJ decision,” the spokesman wrote in an email to Government Executive.

The $1 million would reroute to Congress’ Spending Reduction Account, which works to pay down the national debt, according to Gowdy’s spokesman.

“This is not about politics to me,” Gowdy said during his floor speech Monday for the amendment. “It’s about respect for the rule of law. It’s about answers, it’s about accountability, it’s about acceptance of responsibility.”

During his floor speech, Gowdy listed five questions he seeks answers for regarding Fast and Furious, including who approved the operation and why the department sent a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, denying it. The program allowed more than a thousand guns to end up in the wrong hands along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Justice did not respond to requests for comment.

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