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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Republicans Turn the Tables on the Democrats on Cheney Impeachment Vote

Rep. Dennis Kucinich put forth a motion to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney and Steny Hoyer had announced earlier that he would kill the motion by offering a motion to table it.

The 15 minute vote has turned into over an hour and initially, according Malkin the vote was 207 yeas (to kill), 204 nays (to support), and 22 not voting.

Then in an amazing move, the politicians started switching votes, at one point 133 Republicans were voting against killing the measure.

The flurry continued as per Malkin:

Update 3:43pm Eastern
. The vote to kill Kucinich’s impeachment resolution is wrapping up. C-SPAN’s tally shows 207 yeas (to kill), 204 nays (to support), and 22 not voting.

The nays include 133 Republicans.

Not sure what’s going on. Maybe Republicans want it to pass to embarrass the House leadership?

Lots of last-minute switching…now it’s 204 yea, 207 nay…192 yea, 219 nay…189 yea, 222, nay…

A simple majority is needed to kill the resolution. 218 is the magic number.

Caught up? Good. Confused? Join the club, many that are watching this spectacle are.


From USA Today, we get an explanation of exactly what has happened here.

Update at 3:39 p.m. ET: We thought that the vote to table was over -- the clock said 0:00 -- but lawmakers are still switching things around and Kucinich is within a few votes of getting his bill to come up for a vote.

Update at 3:43 p.m. ET: At least 149 Republicans have voted in favor of considering the impeachment resolution. Hoyer's motion, which would have blocked a vote, looks like its going to fail by at least 31 votes.

Update at 3:53 p.m. ET
: The 15-minute vote began at 2:53 p.m. ET. It's been an hour, and they're still voting. The tally stands at 170-242 right now. Hoyer needed 218 votes to push the bill off the agenda. He's 72 votes short.

Update at 4:02 p.m. ET: Hoyer's motion failed 251-162. The House is now voting on whether to vote on whether the resolution should be sent to the Judiciary Committee.

Update at 4:25 p.m. ET: The vote to decide to vote (yes, you read that right) just ended. By a 218-194 margin, the House has to vote on whether to send the resolution to the Judiciary Committee. That's happening right now.

Update at 4:30 p.m. ET: Perhaps we should pause to explain. When most Republicans unexpectedly -- and on orders of GOP leadership, the AP is reporting -- switched sides and voted against tabling the measure, they essentially forced Democrats to keep talking about it on the floor. That's in direct contrast to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's wishes. She has said an impeachment of Cheney or President Bush is off the table.

"We're going to help them out, to explain themselves," Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, told the AP. "We're going to give them their day in court."

Hoyer and Peloi had stated they did not want this under full debate, the Republicans just made sure that their wishes were thwarted and forced them to use another method to get out of a full debate on this impeaching Cheney.

"[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."

What an unbelievable turn of events.

This post was corrected as the proper numbers came in. My apologies.

From the WAPO:

GOP Forces Debate on Cheney Impeachment

House Republicans, changing course midway through a vote, tried to force Democrats into a debate on a resolution to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney on the grounds he purposely led the country into war against Iraq.

The GOP tactics reversed what had been expected to an overwhelming vote to table, or kill, the resolution by longshot Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

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."

Kucinich, an anti-war Democrat from Ohio, 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 "has said that impeachment is off the table and that the new direction Congress is focused on responsibly and honorably redeploying our troops out of Iraq, covering 10 million uninsured children and meeting our national priorities long neglected by the Bush Administration," said her spokesman Nadeam Elshami.

Amusing to say the least.

Roll call on the the motion to table is here.

Weekly Standard points out another important factor here:

4:23 Update
: The House begins a 5-minute vote on whether to send Kucinich's impeachment resolution to the Judiciary Committee. The bill won't be acted upon, so this is another way to kill it.

4:31 Update
: Looks like the Democrats successfully regrouped after that first vote surprised them. The House just voted 218-194 to send Kucinich's impeachment resolution to the Judiciary Committee. This effectively kills the bill, preventing a debate on impeachment.

It's interesting that on such a weighty question as impeaching the vice president of the United States, votes can change so quickly. While the roll calls are not yet available, it seems there were plenty of Democrats who voted to go forward with impeachment when they thought it would fail, who suddenly voted against impeachment when it mattered. I guess it was all just about politics after all -- even for the supposed 'true believers.'

Bottom line is the Republicans turned the tables on the Democrats and forced them to vote to send it to the Judiciary Committee to kill it.

Wait for the netroots reactions, I will update with them as they come in.

The nutty roots are beginning to understand what just happened.

After Downing

4:41 The motion to send it to the Judiciary Committee passed with only about 5 Dems voting No and 3 Republicans voting Yes. Presumably the 78 or so Dems who voted No on tabling believed that to be enough to appease their constituents, while 5 Dems actually had integrity enough to put the Constitution ahead of Pelosi and Hoyer. There was no discussion of a time limit for the Judiciary Committee to report back (even though there are precedents for insisting on one with impeachment resolutions). This bill has, of course, ALREADY been in the Judiciary Committee for months, and that committee has done nothing with it.

Roll call. These 5 Dems voted right: Filner, Kaptur, Kucinich, Waters, Towns.

More explanations from Capitol Briefing:

Democratic leaders long ago rejected any consideration of impeaching Cheney and President Bush as an irresponsible move supported only by the far left, so they tried today to table Kucinich's impeachment resolution. After initially having more than enough votes to kill the resolution - the "yea" tally to table impeachment topped out at 291 - Republicans decided they had a chance to politically shame Democrats into a full debate on the sensitive issue. Republicans gleefully said they wanted the debate to show the public how many Democrats would actually support impeaching Cheney, which they consider a move supported only by a fringe element of anti-war activists.

More than 120 members, predominantly Republicans, then switched their votes in favor of holding a one-hour debate on the issue, with a final vote of 251-162 supporting a debate on impeachment. Rather than allow a debate fraught with political risk, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) moved to send the Kucinich resolution to the Judiciary Committee, whose chairman, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), has publicly speculated about impeaching the president or vice president but has declined taking any action since taking the gavel in January.

Defusing any chance of an actual impeachment debate today, the House then voted 218-194 to send the motion to Conyers's committee, with Democrats overwhelmingly supporting the move.

I guess they really didn't want the debate after all.....Heh

Think Progress:

UPDATE: The House just voted 218-194 to send Kucinich’s impeachment resolution to the Judiciary Committee, thus killing the bill and preventing a debate on impeachment.


*** Update *** Now we are being treated to the spectacle of Democrats who had voted to table/kill the measure changing THEIR votes. They don't want to be in a postion of defending Dick Cheney if they don't have to.

*** Update II *** The House has just voted to refer the Kucinich impeachment resolution to committee. That means it's dead.

Slapping updates up as the reactions come in after everyone figures out what just happened....LOL

Weekly Standard adds an update:

There were 81 Democrats who voted to have an impeachment debate when they were pretty sure it would be tabled, then turned around and voted to prevent a debate when it was clear one might occur. Those opportunists are:

Neil Abercrombie
Tom Allen
Joe Baca
Tammy Baldwin
Bruce Braley
Lois Capps
Mike Capuano
Yvette Clarke
Bill Clay
Emanuel Cleaver
Steve Cohen
John Conyers
Joe Crowley
Elijah Cummings
Danny Davis
Pete DeFazio
Norm Dicks
Lloyd Doggett
Mike Doyle
Keith Ellison
Sam Farr
Al Green
Gene Green
Raul Grijalva
Luis Gutierrez
Phil Hare
Maurice Hinchey
Mazie Hirono
Paul Hodes
Rush Holt
Mike Honda
Darlene Hooley
Jay Inslee
Jesse Jackson
Sheila Jackson-Lee
Hank Johnson
Stephanie Tubbs Jones
Paul Kanjorski
Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick
Barbara Lee
John Lewis
Dave Loebsack
Carolyn Maloney
Betty McCollum
Jim McDermott
Greg Meeks
Mike Michaud
Brad Miller
Gwen Moore
Jim Moran
Grace Napolitano
Solomon Ortiz
Mike Pallone
Bill Pascrell
Ed Perlmutter
David Price
Charlie Rangel
Laura Richardson
Lucille Roybal-Allard
Bobby Rush
Jan Schakowsky
Bobby Scott
Jose Serrano
Carol Shea-Porter
Brad Sherman
Louise Slaughter
Hilda Solis
Pete Stark
Bart Stupak
Betty Sutton
Mike Thompson
John Tierney
Ed Towns
Nydia Velázquez
Mel Watt
Anthony Weiner
Peter Welch
Bob Wexler
Lynn Woolsey
David Wu
Albert Wynn

The Hill:

The vote to table the privileged resolution, offered by Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinch, began as a largely party-line vote to kill the measure, but Republicans developed a strategy to force Democrats to debate the resolution by supporting Kucinich. GOP leaders felt as though it was in their interest to debate the measure because it would make Democrats look bad.

After more than an hour of waiting for the vote to close, the motion to table the resolution failed by a vote of 162-251 after Democratic leaders failed to convince a group of liberal caucus members to side with them.

Republican lawmakers and aides credited Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) for coming up with the idea.

Rep. John Shadegg, thank you Sir for the best laugh of the day!!!!

Done with Mirrors has a great analogy:

But the best laugh-line of the day comes from one of the people you've learned to turn to to listen for it. He says impeaching the vice president, a constitutional duty if "judgment" leads the Congress to think he deserves it, would interfere with the wonderful and useful work currently underway in that august body. (Like declaring the Iraq effort a failure just when it seems to want to become a success.)

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."

"Productivity," after all, is to this Congress as "parenting" is to "Britney."

[Update] Quote of the day...heck, quote of the week comes from High-ranking Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings said he was not happy with Kucinich's attempts to raise the matter on the floor in an attempt to circumvent the normal legislative process.:

Kucinich "is on a quest of his own. He sees flying saucers and he acts like one," Hastings said.


No More Mister Nice Blog isn't particularly happy:

First Mukasey skates, then Democratic leaders move to bottle up Dennis Kucinich's Cheney impeachment bill -- and then, in case the Dems didn't look weak and ineffectual enough, Republicans pulled a fast one on them and started voting for the bill, which led Democrats who'd voted for the bill (on the assumption that, thank God, it wouldn't pass and frighten anyone) to switch to a no vote in order to ensure it wouldn't pass.

Geldings. A party of geldings.

...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."

Affect your what?

Your productivity?


Followup post here.