Speaker of the House John Boehner incorrectly cited congressional history earlier today while disavowing any thoughts of having Lois Lerner arrested and jailed by the legislature for contempt.
“I'm not sure we want to go down that path,” Boehner said when asked on "Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo." "It's never been used. I'm not sure that it's an appropriate way to go about this."
The House of Representatives voted last week to hold Lerner in contempt following her refusals on two occasions to answer questions about her role in the IRS targeting of conservative and Tea Party non-profit applicants for illegal harassment.
Congress does have the authority to jail individuals cited for contempt and did so as recently as 1935, according to a 2012 Congressional Research Service report.
"In comparison with the other types of contempt proceedings, inherent contempt has the distinction of not requiring the cooperation or assistance of either the executive or judicial branches. The House or Senate can, on its own, conduct summary proceedings and cite the offender for contempt," the CRS report said.
There are difficulties associated with the exercise of inherent contempt, according to the CRS report.
"Although the [individual found in contempt] can be incarcerated until he agrees to comply with the subpoena, imprisonment may not extend beyond the end of the current session of Congress.
"Moreover, inherent contempt has been described as 'unseemly,' cumbersome, time-consuming, and relatively ineffective, especially for a modern Congress with a heavy legislative workload that would be interrupted by a trial at the bar.
"Because of these drawbacks, the inherent contempt process has not been used by either body since 1935."