Roughly 100 Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, poured out of the House of Representatives in a symbolic protest against holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, but the rest of the body proceeded without them.
The House voted 255 to 67 to hold Holder in contempt of Congress Thursday.
The move came after Holder failed to turn over thousands of pages of subpoenaed documents related to Operation Fast and Furious to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who led the push, said he was holding the vote to find out more about the botched gun scandal that led the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to place more than 2,000 guns into the hands of Mexican drug dealers.
In another symbolic maneuver, Issa brought a thick stack of classified wiretapping applications onto the House floor, holding them in the air as he called for justice for the family of Brian Terry, the border patrol agent who was killed by a weapon from the gun-walking scandal.
"We want to have resolution for the Terry family," Issa said to those viting against contempt. Opponents accused Republicans of bringing the vote to the floor as an election-year stunt.
The vote was bipartisan with 17 Democrats voting to hold the country's highest law enforcement official in contempt.
Many moderate Democrats felt pressure from the powerful National Rifle Association, a pro-gun group that was keeping track of votes and promised to use their "score" in the looming November election.
The NRA told lawmakers that voting against the contempt vote was a vote against gun rights, as they believe President Barack Obama and Holder have been politicizing Fast and Furious in an effort to weaken gun laws.
The White House had dismissed the notion and called the contempt vote "political theater" and "an action taken by Congress that does not respond to the most urgent priorities."
Members who voted for the contempt citation said they hoped that it will lead to more answers for the the Terry family.
"All they want is the truth. They want answers, they want justice and they don't want some of it, they want all of it," said South Carolina Republican Rep.Trey Gowdy. "We are right to pursue this."
Meanwhile, the Congressional Black Caucus and other Democrats who walked off the floor held a separate press conference decrying the contempt vote.
Hoyer said it was a "sad day for the United States of Representatives."
"I believe that the political motivations behind this resolution are clear and bodes a clear and present danger to this nation," Hoyer said.
Law experts like Stanley Brand—who served as General Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1976 to 1983—said little is likely to come from the contempt vote.
"It sounds very dramatic, but there is no fast way to enforce these things," Brand says.
The next step would be for a U.S. Attorney to present the contempt case to a grand jury, but its unlikely that will happen considering Holder oversees the Department of Justice.
Brand says the last ditch option is for the the House of Representatives to file a civil lawsuit to enforce their subpoena, which could take nearly two years to resolve. While some pundits have argued the contempt citation is a black eye on the administration. Brand says he couldn't disagree more.
"It doesn't have anything to do with the president," he said. "It is not like the watergate tapes."