WASHINGTON – Rep. Dennis Kucinich's single impeachment article will get a committee hearing — but not on removing President Bush from office.
The House on Tuesday voted 238-180 to send his article of impeachment — for Bush's reasoning for taking the country to war in Iraq — to the Judiciary Committee, which buried Kucinich's previous effort.
This time, the panel will open hearings. But House Democratic leaders emphatically said the proceedings will not be about Bush's impeachment, a first step in the Constitution's process of a removing a president from office.
Instead, the panel will conduct an election-year review — possibly televised — of anything Democrats consider to be Bush's abuse of power. Kucinich, D-Ohio, is likely to testify. But so will several scholars and administration critics, Democrats said.
The hearing is a modest gesture by House Democratic leaders to members like Kucinich who insist that Bush's reasons for going to war meet the standard for impeachment. Kucinich had said that if his impeachment article is tabled he would just propose another one.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has made clear since she ascended to that post that there would be no impeachment proceedings. But that didn't stop Kucinich from introducing 35 articles of impeachment, spending four hours in June reading them on the House floor and demanding hearings. The House summarily dispatched them for burial to the Judiciary Committee.
Kucinich came back with a single article, which was read into the record Tuesday. As it did with the others, the House referred it to the panel, chaired by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.
But this time, Pelosi said with a conspicuous lack of enthusiasm, that it would see some committee action.
Democratic aides said the hearing could take place as soon as next week.
The impeachment resolution alleges that Bush misled the public into thinking that he had no choice but to wage war on Iraq and implied that Iraq had helped al-Qaida with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Democratic aides have widely suggested those gauging the bill's prospects look to a precedent: the impeachment articles against Vice President Dick Cheney, which were sent to Conyers' committee in November. There's no evidence they will be considered before the Bush administration leaves office in January.
Those were Kucinich's, too. Republicans, seeing a chance to force Democrats into an embarrassing debate, voted to bring up the resolution. Democrats countered by pushing through a motion to scuttle the bill from the floor.