Dems pledge investigation before impeachment

Democrats will launch a series of investigations of the Bush administration if they take control of Congress in November but are not out to impeach President George W. Bush, a top Democrat said on Sunday.

House of Representatives Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats would hold hearings on the use of intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq war and investigate the high price of energy and prescription drugs if they win the extra 15 seats they need for a House majority in the mid-term elections.

But Pelosi denied Republican claims that her party would move quickly to impeach Bush.

“I said we’d be having hearings on the war, we’d have hearings. But I don’t see us going to a place of impeachment,” Pelosi said in an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press. “Investigation does not equate to impeachment. Investigation is the requirement of Congress. It is about checks and balances.”

In Congress, the majority party controls the chairmanship and agenda of all committees, where most laws are drafted and investigative and subpoena power is held.

With Bush’s public approval rating at an all-time low and Republicans fearing they could lose control of both houses of Congress in November, Democrats are laying out plans for an aggressive start to the new Congress.

Michigan Rep. John Conyers, the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, has called for the creation of committee to recommend grounds for possible impeachment of Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney.

But Pelosi said such a decision rests with her and the Democratic caucus.

“John Conyers is an enthusiastic advocate. I am the leader. Our caucus will decide where we go,” she said.

While she declined to rule out impeachment, Pelosi focused on investigations of the White House’s energy task force and the prescription drug bill.

“You never know where the facts take you … but that is not what we are about,” Pelosi said. “We will have subpoena power and that’s why the Republicans are so afraid that we will be able to show the public how they arrived at a prescription drug bill that is born of corruption,” Pelosi said.

“The cost of corruption is huge to the consumer, whether it is low income seniors paying more at the pharmacy, whether it is all American consumers paying more at the pump or home heating oil. How did we get to this place? That is worthy of scrutiny.”

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