GOP surprise in Cheney impeachment

House Democrats on Tuesday narrowly managed to avert a bruising debate on a proposal to impeach Dick Cheney after Republicans, in a surprise maneuver, voted in favor of taking up the measure.

Republicans, changing course midway through a vote, tried to force Democrats into a debate on the resolution sponsored by longshot presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

The anti-war Ohio Democrat, in his resolution, accused Cheney of purposely leading the country into war against Iraq and manipulating intelligence about Iraq’s ties with al-Qaida.

The GOP tactics reversed what had been expected to be an overwhelming vote to table, or kill, the resolution.

Midway through the vote, with instructions from the GOP leadership, Republicans one by one changed their votes from yes — to kill the resolution — to no, trying to force the chamber into a debate and an up-or-down vote on the proposal.

At one point there were 290 votes to table. After the turnaround, the final vote was 251-162 against tabling, with 165 Republicans voting against it.

“We’re going to help them out, to explain themselves,” said Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas. “We’re going to give them their day in court.”

Democrats countered by offering a motion to refer the proposal to the House Judiciary Committee for further study, effectively preventing a debate on the House floor. That motion passed by a largely party-line vote of 218-194.

The White House, in a statement, said Democrats were shirking responsibilities on issues such as childrens’ health insurance “and yet they find time to waste an afternoon on an impeachment vote against the vice president. … This is why Americans shake their head in wonder about the priorities of this Congress.”

Kucinich has long pushed for a vote to impeach Cheney, but has failed to win the backing of the Democratic leadership. After Kucinich introduced the resolution, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., immediately moved to table it.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said “impeachment is off the table” and Congress is focused on responsibly getting U.S. troops out of Iraq, covering 10 million uninsured children and meeting national priorities long neglected by the Bush administration, said her spokesman Nadeam Elshami.

The resolution said that Cheney, “in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of vice president,” had “purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the use of the U.S. Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security interests.”

The 11-page resolution also charged that Cheney purposely deceived the nation about an alleged relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida and has “openly threatened aggression against the Republic of Iran absent any real threat to the United States.”

House approval of an article of impeachment sends the issue to the Senate, which has the constitutional authority to try and, with a two-thirds vote, remove a person from office.


The bill is H. Res 799.

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  1. mary cali

    In the history of the Republic, no President nor Vice President have been as deserving of impeachment as these two. Deceiving the country into an unnecessary war that has cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars should be enough, but there are more impeachable offenses committed by both.

    The political reality is that even if impeached, they will not be removed due to the enabling Republicans in Congress. However, having the discussion would be well worth the effort. I do not know why the Dem leadership is so oppossed to starting the impeachment process against the VP who has an approval rating below 20%. The Rs think that impeachment of the VP will backfire on Dems. How is that possible, as the impeachment process reveals more of the way we were deceived into war? Speaker Pelosi et al have to stop being intimidated by the GOP talking points.

  2. barak

    Something is rotten in the “state” of DC. A former Marylander Speaker of the House and a current Maryland Rep who is the House Majority Leader conspire to remove Dennis Kucinich’s Resolution and Agnew and Mandel’s spectres arise out of the cold cold House Floor.
    Nancy, why is Impeachment “Off the table”? What are you Dems afraid of? Maybe, just maybe the big bucks being burgulared by both Bush & Darth are filtering down into the pockets of some Congressmen.
    Arise Sir Waxman, and investigate the hell out of all these thieves, liers, and highwaymen and women. Henry Waxman may be our only hope!!! Help us Henry, you’re our only hope!!
    We need to fire Nancy and Steny and get on with the business of ending the war so we have the money to pay for all the social welfare programs that the kids and indigents and working class people of our country need–Free health insurance for children, affordable Health Insurance for every person earning under $30,000 a year, and less federal relief for million dollar houses burned in CA while there are still uninhabitable areas in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast–residual damage still unfixed from the Katrina days.
    There has to be a ton of money being paid off to these House “Leaders” and their cronies. Otherwise, why wouldn’t they want to stop the drain of the war and help OUR people.
    Sometimes I wonder who the real terrorists are…

  3. justanothercoverup

    I agree, something is very rotten in the House of Representatives – and that’s the Democratic leadership themselves. It’s no wonder the “Thought Crime Prevention Bill” was instigated by a Democrat – and of the 14 who signed-on as supporters of the bill, eight of them were Democrats. The Democrats, for reasons they cannot coherently justify, refuse to perform their constitutionally mandated duty to impeach a President and Vice-President who hold Congress, the American people, and international law in such utter contempt. If we do not organize ourselves and respond in unison to this threat to our democracy and the American way of life – it will exist only as a memory, and many who still remain silent will bemoan our slide into tyranny after the fact because of it’s detrimental effects on liberty itself; complacency is a disease, one that will allow our republic to fall into tyranny if not soon addressed by the majority of Americans rather than hoping “that someone else” will come to their rescue. In the matter at hand, because of the Democrat’s complicity and cowardice – we now face losing the very essence of what made this country the bellwether of democratic values throughout the world.

    President Bush and VP Cheney, Your Time Has Come And Gone!

    It’s time for all of us to jump on the bandwagon and become Freedom Fighters rather than sitting back in complacency – but my experience is that attempting to organize the people to do anything is akin to herding cats – almost an impossibility at this point, and somehow, we who know the truth must work to awaken the rest of America or our Democratic Republic will be lost forever.

    William Cormier

  4. Donnat

    Why is this a ‘surprise’? Didn’t the GOP pull this stunt by tossing up ‘gay marriage amendments’ and ‘pull out of Iraq’ bills every time they needed an issue to distract from bad news (this time the loss of VA and KY)?

    The surprise here is that the Democrats didn’t see it coming. No surprise that they backed down, their usual mode of response. I’m hoping that their continuing weakness against every GOP maneuver is because they don’t have a clear majority and that once Hillary is in the WH they’ll grow a spine. That would be a nice surprise.


  5. Stratocaster

    Cheney Still receives a salary from Halliburton. Just because it is deferred until after he leaves office does not mean that it is not a conflict of interest. If this war was not about Halliburton’s profits, what was it about? War profilteering is an act of treason.

  6. mary cali

    I am not as cynical as previous posters who suggest that Pelosi and Hoyer are on the take from trickle down graft. I do believe that what has them against impeachment is legitimate concern about passing their legislative agenda. They do need some Rs to vote with them and impeachment may damage that.

    However, the D leadership does need to be made aware that the misconduct of this administration has to be brought to light and should take precedent. The legislation can be passed at a later time. Nothing is more important than not letting the abuse of power stand unchallenged.