It now looks as if Rep. Dennis Kucinich's effort to impeace Vice President Dick Cheney will finally come to a vote today - but not the vote for which supporters have been hoping.
With Democrats averse to opening an intramural debate on an issue that divides their base, party leaders are expected to nip the measure in the bud this afternoon. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters this morning that he would move to table the measure when Kucinich introduces it.
"[House Speaker Nancy Pelosi] and I have both said impeachment is not on our agenda," Hoyer told reporters. "That does not make a judgment on that issue."
Hoyer's motion appears likely to pass - an outcome that would further alienate an antiwar left already frustrated with a lack of progress by congressional Democrats on changing U.S. policy on Iraq.
"We are in a serious Constitutional crisis," Joseph A. Palermo, a professor of history at California State University, Sacramento, wrote this morning on the Huffington Post. "Democrats were elected to Congress to put the brakes on the Bush-Cheney juggernaut. ... [Kucinich's bill] is a long overdue measure coming from a Democrat who has the guts to stand up for the United States Constitution."
Kucinich, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, has gathered 21 co-sponsors for the articles of impeachment that he first introduced in April. Seeing war with Iran on the horizon, the Ohio congressman now plans to reintroduce the measure this afternoon as a privileged resolution.
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Kucinich alleges that Cheney misled Congress and the American public into the war in Iraq, and is trying now to mislead lawmakers and voters into a war with Iran.
"The Vice President is cherry-picking intelligence and selectively using facts in a manner that does not portray the complete picture," Kucinich said today in a statement. "The best option to prevent an unnecessary war with Iran is to impeach the Vice President, the lead cheerleader of the war."
Hoyer did not address the substance of the measure.
"This administration has approximately 12 months, 14 months to go," the Maryland Democrat said. "We have very important issues that we are focusing on: Change of policy in Iraq. Children's health care. Energy independence. Educational access. Investing in health care. Securing our borders and our ports. We have some major priorities. We believe that we need to pursue those policies, focusing on those policies."
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, whose panel has jurisdiction over impeachment proceedings, has described the impeachment effort as a potential disruption.
"If the speaker were to let this thing out of the box, considering the number of legislative issues we have pending," the Michigan Democrat told Fox News, "it could create a split that could affect our productivity for the rest of the Congress."
© 2007 The Chicago Tribune