WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich expressed satisfaction Tuesday with a series of procedural twists on the House floor that resulted in the Ohio congressman's impeachment articles against Vice President Dick Cheney being sent for committee review.
A series of strategic maneuvers on both sides of the partisan aisle ended with a 218-194 vote along party lines to deliver the impeachment resolution to the House Judiciary Committee, the panel of jurisdiction for such matters.
"This vote sends a message that the administration's conduct in office is no longer unchallenged," Kucinich said after the vote.
Kucinich savored the victory, saying that Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers
had reassured him and backers of the resolution "that he would in fact launch an impeachment inquiry." But Conyers told FOX News that he would announce his decision on Wednesday after speaking with House Democratic leaders.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has previously stated that she did not want the impeachment articles to come to a vote. High-ranking Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings, who was himself impeached while a judge in Florida, 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.
Regardless of Kucinich's confessed past sighting of a UFO, the House was rapt by the resolution Tuesday afternoon as the congressman basked in the spotlight during debate.
The resolution arose when Kucinich made a procedural maneuver to bring up his resolution for a vote, despite opposition from Democratic leaders. During the action, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, acting in accordance with Pelosi's wishes, moved to table the resolution, which would have effectively sent it into the ether.
Republicans had originally decided to go along with Hoyer and kill the resolution, but halfway through voting GOP lawmakers en masse changed their "yes" votes to "nays."
Bringing a vote on the impeachment resolution would put Democrats on record over impeachment, a move that Republicans figured could end up a political advantage in a year that has been marked by little progress from the Democratic-led Congress.
When Republicans succeeded on a 162-251 vote to allow the resolution to be debated, Hoyer then moved to send the resolution, which had not gone through traditional channels, to the Judiciary panel for consideration. That motion passed, but Conyers could decide to bury the legislation.
Kucinich's resolution calls for Cheney's impeachment, saying the vice president lied to Congress and the U.S. public in order to enter into a war in Iraq, and is trying to mislead Americans again in order to start a war with Iran.
Kucinich originally offered the resolution in April but it had seen no action. The resolution has 21 cosponsors.
After the vote, Hoyer criticized Republicans for wielding their votes so cavalierly.
"I am surprised that Republicans would treat an issue as important as the potential impeachment of a vice president of the United States as a petty political game. It is beneath the dignity of this institution," Hoyer said. "This is a continuation of Republicans’ gotcha games that achieve nothing more than short term entertainment for themselves, while showing their disdain for the importance of the people’s business."
Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami called the two-hour debate "absurd."
"It would have been one 20 minute vote to dispose of the motion, but instead Republicans switched their votes and forced the House to take two additional votes. They wasted the American peoples time and, honestly, these comments from the White House are just laughable," Elshami said.
Conversely, Cheney's office and the White House blasted Democrats for bringing up the issue at all.
"It is one thing for Congressman Kucinich to use this political ploy in his presidential campaign. It is another thing to do so on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Democrat-led Congress still has not sent the president a single appropriations bill. It's time to do so, our troops are waiting," Cheney spokeswoman Megan Mitchell said.
"This Congress has not sent a single appropriations bill to the presidents desk this year ... yet, they find time to spend an entire work period on futile votes to impeach the vice president or to pass contempt citations against the president's chief of staff and former counsel," said White House press secretary Dana Perino, referring to House efforts to issue citations to former White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former counsel Harriet Miers for failing to respond to subpoenas.
"It is this behavior that leaves the American people shaking their head in wonder at this Congress," Perino said.
FOX News' Chad Pergram and Molly Hooper contributed to this report.