A House committee voted Thursday to cite Attorney General Janet Reno for contempt of Congress for failing to turn over a report recommending that she seek an independent counsel to probe campaign fund-raising abuses.
The panel moved to the extraordinary confrontation on a 24-19 vote. All Republicans supported the motion. Eighteen Democrats joined by Independent Bernard Sanders of Vermont opposed it."The committee has a need to see these documents," said Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., denounced the action as "political threater." He said that "this odious threat of contempt is beneath contempt."
"We're continuing to talk to see if we can reach an accommodation," Reno said before the committee vote.
The full House would have to endorse any contempt citation in a vote that would not occur before September when the lawmakers return from their August recess.
Rep. Merrill Cook, R-Utah, joined calls Wednesday for Reno to appoint an independent counsel to investigate Chinese money funneled to Democrats in 1996.
He said he sees such a probe as an essential part of campaign-finance reform - which the House is debating this week.