Â·The panel voted 22-17 to approve contempt of Congress citations against Bolten and Miers.
Â·The panel asked the full House to seek contempt charges against them .
Â·Contempt of Congress carries a penalty of up to a 1,000-U.S. dollar fine and one year in prison.
Washington : The U.S. House Judiciary Committee voted on Wednesday to approve contempt of Congress citations against a White House official and a former aide to President George W. Bush over the firing of several federal prosecutors last year.
The panel voted 22-17 to approve the move, and asked the full House to seek contempt charges against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers, Bush's former counsel, for refusing to comply with subpoenas that demanded information about the dismissals.
If the full House approves contempt citations, the issue would be sent to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia to pursue grand jury indictments.
Contempt of Congress would be federal misdemeanor and carries a penalty of up to a 1,000-U.S. dollar fine and one year in prison.
"If we countenance a process where our subpoenas can be readily ignored, where a witness under a duly authorized subpoena doesn't even have to bother to show up, where privilege can be asserted on the thinnest basis and in the broadest possible manner, then we have already lost," said committee chairman Representative John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan.
"We won't be able to get anybody in front of this committee or any other," he said before the vote.
White House counsel Fred Fielding has said that both Miers and Bolten were immune from congressional subpoenas, a claim that has been rejected by Democrats.
White House spokesman Tony Snow on Wednesday accused Democrats in Congress of assailing "the concept of executive privilege."
"Now we have a situation where there is an attempt to do something that's never been done in American history, which is to assail the concept of executive privilege which hails back to the administration of George Washington and in particular to use criminal contempt charges against the White House chief of staff and the White House legal counsel," he said.
Nine federal prosecutors were fired last year, and political considerations were believed to have played a role in the firings. Lawmakers investigating the firings have been seeking information from the White House on its involvement in the dismissals.