Cheney, Bush Can Be Clipped by Voters
By James P. Tucker Jr.
As impeachment gains support in Congress and throughout the country, Rep. Bernie Sanders (IVer.) points out that Democrats must regain control of both houses of Congress in the November election for there to be any chance of ousting President Bush.
Sanders, who supports impeachment, noted that Republican majorities in both chambers would prevent any such action at this time. The purpose of raising the issue now is to build momentum and educate Congress and the public, he said.
“For those people who are outraged by the conduct of the Bush administration—it’s my view that all of our energy must go into the November elections, with the goal of ending Republican control of the House and Senate,” Sanders said.
Sanders has announced that he will be running for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. James Jeffords, also an independent.
Republicans hold a 55 to 44 majority in the Senate and a 31-seat margin in the House. Democrats would have to win big in the Senate races to rustle up the two-thirds majority required to convict if the House impeaches the president.
Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) introduced a motion to censure Bush on March 13. Censure is the harshest action short of impeachment Congress can take.
Feingold indicated strongly that censure should be followed by impeachment. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) has called for a committee to consider impeachment in the House. Feingold’s censure resolution cited Bush’s warrantless terrorist-surveillance program.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) called for an immediate vote to put Democrats on the record, but Democrats invoked rules to prevent floor action and the proposal was referred to the Judiciary Committee.
Feingold, in proposing censure, said Bush was breaking the law by ordering eavesdropping in the United States without warrants.
“This is one of the most blatant attempts in American history by a president to violate the law, to boast about the fact that he had violated the law, to continue to violate the law and to mock anyone who questions it,” Feingold said. “That has to be answered. Otherwise, our system of government has changed in a very tragic way.”
Bush, Feingold said, “authorized an illegal program to spy on American citizens on American soil, and then misled Congress and the public about the existence and legality of that program.”
Feingold’s resolution states that “the United States Senate does hereby censure George W. Bush, president of the United States, and does condemn his unlawful authorization of wiretaps of Americans.”
In announcing his resolution a day before introducing it, Feingold said “We all believe there should be wiretapping in appropriate cases—but the idea that the president can just make up a law, in violation of his oath of office, has to be answered.”
Feingold suggested Bush may deserve to be impeached without directly calling for such action. “This is certainly more serious than anything President Clinton was accused of doing,” Feingold said. “It’s reminiscent of what President Nixon was not only accused of doing but was basically removed from office for doing.”
Nixon resigned in August1974 to avoid impeachment in the legendary Watergate scandal. Clinton was impeached by the House for lying about an affair he had with an intern but was acquitted by the Senate.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) commended Feingold “for bringing this to the attention of the American people. We need a full and complete debate.” Reid said he wanted to examine the resolution before endorsing or rejecting it.
On the national front, three other towns in Vermont have joined Newfane, VT. in calling for Bush’s impeachment. Dummerston, Marlboro and Putney voters also approved impeachment resolutions on March 7. Earlier, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted seven to three in favor of an impeachment resolution.
(Issue #13, March 27, 2006)