Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner refused to consider using the House’s constitutional authority to arrest disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner for being in contempt of Congress, noting it’s never been used before and should be left to Attorney General Eric Holder.
On Sunday, Boehner spoke with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo about next steps in the investigation into the alleged targeting of conservative nonprofit groups by the IRS. As head of the tax revenue service’s nonprofit division at the time, Lerner has repeatedly refused to testify before lawmakers — leading to last Wednesday’s vote holding her in contempt of Congress.
“The contempt charge has gone to the attorney general,” Boehner explained, “and it’s up to the attorney general, Eric Holder, to prosecute this, and to assign someone to prosecute the case. Now, will he do it? We don’t know. But the ball is in his court.”
But Bartiromo noted that the House has its own powers to arrest those found in contempt of Congress.
“There’s a provision in the Constitution that has never been used,” Boehner admitted. “And uh, and so — that’s uh — I’m not quite sure that we want to go down that path . . . It’s never been used.”
The Speaker couldn’t explain why the provision has laid dormant — “I’m not the historian here” — but said he’s “not sure that it’s an appropriate way to go about this.”
“It’s up to Eric Holder to do his job,” Boehner asserted.