Created on Saturday, 10 November 2007 12:44
Written by Dave Lindorff
Suddenly, Impeachment Hearings Are Looking Like a Strong Possibility
by Dave Lindorff
ou wouldnâ€™t know it if you just watch TV news or read the corporate press, but this past Tuesday, something remarkable happened.
Despite the pig-headed opposition of the Democratic Partyâ€™s top congressional leadership, a majority of the House, including three Republicans, voted to send Dennis Kucinichâ€™s long sidelined Cheney impeachment bill (H Res 333) to the Judiciary Committee for hearings.
Now the behind-the-scenes partisan maneuvering that preceded that
vote was arcane indeed, with Kucinich first exercising a memberâ€™s
privilege motion to present his stymied impeachment bill to the full
House, only to have Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrange for a colleague
(Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD) offer a motion to table it.
Republicans, anxious to embarrass the Speaker, threw a wrench into that
plan, though, by voting as a bloc to oppose tabling. Since Kucinich
already has 22 co-sponsors for his bill, it was clear that the tabling
gambit would fail. As soon as that became apparent, rank-and-file
Democrats, unwilling to be seen by their constituents as defending
Cheney, rushed to change their votes to opposing the tabling motion.
the end, tabling failed by 242 to 170 with 77 Democrats supporting a
pleasantly surprised Kucinich.
In order to avoid a floor debate
on the merits of impeaching the eminently impeachable Vice President
Cheney, Pelosi and her allies then moved to send Kucinichâ€™s bill
directly to the Judiciary Committee. They were joined by three
Republicans, including maverick Republican presidential candidate Ron
Now the hope of the Democratic leadership is that
this means Kucinichâ€™s impeachment bill will continue to be safely
bottled up in a subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. But it may not
work out that way for them.
Whatever the explanation, this impeachment bill has been endorsed by a floor vote of the full House, with bipartisan support.
the Judiciary Committee to sit on it now and not schedule a hearing
would be a gross travesty of parliamentary procedure and custom.
some House members not associated with Kucinichâ€™s resolution are now
openly calling for immediate hearings into Cheneyâ€™s impeachable
actionsâ€”specifically lying the country into a war in Iraq, and
threatening war with Iran.
One indication of the change in the
political climate in the House is the announcement by Rep. Robert
Wexler (D-FL), a six-term congressman and a member of the House
Judiciary Committee, that he will call for the Judiciary Committee to
take up Kucinichâ€™s impeachment bill. This is significant because
Wexler, no left-wing hothead, is not a co-signer of the Kucinich bill.
In an email message to constituents, Wexler said:
share your belief that Vice President Cheney must answer for his
deceptive actions in office, particularly with regard to the
preparations for the Iraq war and the revelation of the identity of
covert agent Valerie Plame Wilson as part of political retribution
against her husband.â€
â€œâ€¦Cheney and the bush Administration
have demonstrated a consistent pattern of abusing the law and
misleading Congress and the American people. We see the consequences of
these actions abroad in Iraq and at home through the violations of our
civil liberties. The American people are served well with a legitimate
and thorough impeachment inquiry. I will urge the Judiciary Committee
to schedule impeachment hearings immediately and not let this issue
languish as it has over the last six months. Only through hearings can
we begin to correct the abuses of Dick Cheney and the bush
administration; and if it is determined in these hearings that Vice
President Cheney has committed High Crimes and Misdemeanors, he should
be impeached and removed from office. It is time for Congress to expose
the multitude of misdeeds of the Administration and I am hopeful that
the Judiciary Committee will expeditiously begin an investigation of
Also calling for prompt action by the Judiciary
Committee in the wake of the Tuesday House vote was Carol Shea-Porter,
a first-term Democrat from New Hampshire, who also is not a sponsor of
the Kucinich measure. In explaining her vote to send the Kucinich bill
to the Judiciary Committee, she said:
â€œIt is the duty of the
Vice President to faithfully execute the laws of the United States of
America and to defend the Constitution. There is growing evidence that
the Executive Branch has ignored some of our laws and has attempted to
bend the Constitution to its will. Members of both parties decided that
this issue is too important to ignore. I voted with my Republican and
Democratic colleagues to investigate the Vice Presidentâ€™s actions in
She characterized the resolution sending the bill to the Judiciary Committee as a â€œstrongly bi-partisan vote.â€
these kinds of endorsements and calls for action, it is clear both that
Speaker Pelosi is looking increasingly pathetic and out of touch with
her â€œimpeachment is off the tableâ€ mantra, and also that Judiciary
Chair John Conyers (D-MI), who seems to have been intimidated by the
Speaker for the past year, but who earlier had been a leader in
exposing the crimes of the Bush/Cheney administration, is getting
strong support for taking a bolder stand.
Chair John Conyers
Stephen Cohen (D-TN),
a member of the Judiciary Committee who is a co-sponsor of the Kucinich
resolution, says he thinks that there will be an impeachment hearing in
The 22 House members who have already signed on
as co-sponsors of Kucinichâ€™s Cheney impeachment resolution are: Jan
Schakowsky (D-IL), Maxine Waters D-CA), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Keith
Ellison (D-MN), Lynn Woolsey D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Albert Wynn
(D-MD), William Lacy Clay (D-MO, Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Jim McDermott
(D-WA), Jim Moran (D-VA), Bob Filner (D-CA), Sam Farr (D-CA), Robert
Brady (D-PA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Steve Cohen
(D-TN), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI), Ed Towns
(D-NY, Diane Watson (D-CA, and Danny Davis (D-IL).
The change in
attitude toward impeachment among the rank and file, and the evident
increasing willingness to buck the Speaker, reflects growing awareness
of the groundswell of popular anger with the Bush administration and
the Democratic Congress over continued funding of the Iraq War, and
over continued erosion of Constitutional government and civil liberties
by an administration that wants unfettered executive power and by a
Congress that is afraid to act.
The latest polls show three in
four Democrats in favor of impeaching the vice president and president,
while a majority of all Americans favor impeaching the vice president
and roughly half of all Americans favor impeaching the president.
This is before hearings and presentation of evidence have even begun!
Democratic strategy for the 2008 election has been to do nothing overly
confrontational, to pass no significant legislation, to collect lots of
money from corporate interests, and to hope that the Republican Party,
saddled with an unpopular administration and an unpopular war, will
The strategy, however, is proving to be a disaster, as
public support for the Democratic do-nothing Congress has fallen even
below the presidentâ€™s record low numbers. Just running against
Republicans, Bush/Cheney, and the continuing war risks seeing Democrats
go down to defeat in â€™08.
It is awareness of this looming
electoral disaster that underlies the growing restiveness among
rank-and-file Democrats in the House, all of whom have to face the
voters in less than a yearâ€™s time.
As recently as a month ago, it didnâ€™t look like impeachment was in the cards, now itâ€™s starting to look like Cheneyâ€™s going to be put in the dock.
It may not be long before we start to see bills of impeachment filed against President Bush too.
corporate media enjoy making fun of Rep. Kucinich, a height-challenged
but dedicated progressive who has made a career of standing tall for
If his bill ends up leading to impeachment hearings against
Cheney, Kucinich will end up having the last laugh.