President Obama’s spokesman urged House Republicans on Wednesday to cancel a planned vote to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress, saying most Americans don’t care about the separation-of-powers struggle.
“We hope Republicans change their minds as to what the right course of action is,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney, adding that lawmakers should be focused instead on boosting the economy. “I cannot imagine this will sit well with most Americans.”
But Mr. Carney said the White House was under no illusions about the Republicans’ plans, and administration officials expect the House vote against Mr. Holder to proceed.
“House Republicans have made the strategic choice to try to score political points,” Mr. Carney said, adding that there was “ample opportunity” to resolve the battle earlier.
Mr. Carney said senior White House and Justice Department officials met Tuesday with staff from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and showed them “a representative sample” of documents sought by the committee. But they were not able to resolve the impasse.
“This was a good-faith effort to try to reach an accommodation,” Mr. Carney said. But he said House Republicans are still pursuing their “preposterous” action against Mr. Holder.
“You remain hopeful that common sense prevails here,” Mr. Carney said.
The vote is scheduled for Thursday and is expected to fall primarily along party lines, as Republicans say Mr. Holder is blocking a valid investigation into the Obama administration’s Fast and Furious gun-walking operation. Democrats argue that the probe has turned into a political fishing expedition.