BREAKING: Seven US Reps Support Cheney Impeachment (UPDATE 1)

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(APN) ATLANTA — US Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) became the sixth and seventh total cosponsors of US Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s (D-OH) bill to impeach Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.

In addition to Kucinich, the additional four Members of Congress who have signed on to H. Res 333 are US Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), William Lacy Clay (D-MO), and Albert Wynn (D-MD).

“It’s their prerogative to represent their constituents,” Drew Hammill, spokesperson for US House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), told Atlanta Progressive News, adding the intrepid seven do not face retribution from Pelosi.

US Reps. Lee and Woolseys’ cosponsorships are quite significant, as they are the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and their leadership may pave the way for other Members of Congress to feel it is safe to sign on.

“While ending the occupation of Iraq remains my top priority, and I am clear about the political reality as it relates to this bill, I nonetheless believe that given Vice President Cheney’s role in misleading our nation into an unnecessary, aggressive invasion and occupation that it is appropriate for me to support this measure,” US Rep. Lee said in a statement issued to APN.

US Rep. Woolsey was traveling today and unable to comment immediately.

US Rep. Kucinich’s Office–who has for weeks been largely incommunicado regarding their own bill–did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS LEADERS SIGN ON

There are 70 Members of the CPC. Six CPC Members have signed on to H Res 333; all current cosponsors are CPC Members with the exception of US Rep. Wynn (D-MD).

In the last Congressional Session, CPC Members were the most active in supporting US Rep. John Conyers’s bill, H Res 635, to create a Select Committee to investigate the grounds for possible impeachment. 31 CPC Members supported H Res 635 last Session, out of 39 total cosponsors of that bill.

US Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Albert Wynn were not cosponsors of H Res 635. All other current cosponsors of H Res 333 were also cosponsors of H Res 635, except US Rep. Yvette Clarke who was newly elected this term. Clarke, however, replaced US Rep. Major Owens (D-NY), who had supported Conyers’s bill.

CONSTITUENT PRESSURE SEEN

“The people who are signing on seem to be people who are getting a hell of a lot of pressure from constituents,” impeachment activist David Swanson told Atlanta Progressive News.

“Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee have been able to organize large numbers of Congress Members behind proposals considered pie in the sky,” Swanson said.

“She’s known to take a position early that’s grown in strength and become popular later,” Swanson said of Woolsey, whose cosponsorship was confirmed by APN prior to Lee’s. “The things she gets behind tend to catch on with others later.”

“She’s signed Conyers’s bill too. It’s not that she’s just come to the realization on impeachment; it’s, the pressure from her constituents has outweighed Nancy Pelosi,” Swanson said.

“If you have both Chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, it is possible they’ll ask the whole CPC and if they don’t, constituents will.”

The question facing potential cosponsors is, “How hard they’re willing to go to defy Nancy Pelosi?” Swanson said.

COMPARING WITH CONYERS’S BILL SUPPORTERS

Atlanta Progressive News has been following several bills related to impeachment over the last two years. We recall that cosponsorship of H Res 635 took a big jump on December 22, 2005, when seven Members joined Conyers, bringing total support to 8 Members at that time. US Rep. Lofgren (D-CA) said her name had been added by mistake due to an unspecified clerical error.

Only US Rep. Woolsey, and no other, has been an early supporter of both H Res 635 and H Res 333.

The other early supporters of H Res 635 were US Reps. Lois Capps (D-NY), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Maxine Waters (D-CA), in addition to Mr. Conyers.

JUDICIARY COMMITTEE OUTLOOK

The House Judiciary Committee told APN recently there are no plans to have hearings on impeachment of Cheney or anyone else at this time.

“It’s not at this time on the Committee’s immediate agenda,” Conyers’s spokesperson said.

“Once it’s referred it has to be on the Committee’s agenda for the Committee to take it up,” they said.

“In order to move a bill you have to have hearings scheduled on it,” they said.

How does a bill get on the agenda? “The Chairman would have to decide to hold a hearing. Typically it would go through subcommittee first, but it depends on the situation,” Pelosi spokesperson, Drew Hammill, said.

WHAT IS THE TABLE ANYWAY?

When asked by APN if Conyers taking impeachment “off the table” meant based on present information or whether it was complete abdication of a constitutional mechanism no matter what information comes forward, “All we can speak to is the present time,” the spokesperson said, adding it would be unwise to speculate about the future.

“I don’t think it’s prejudging,” they said.

A follow-up call to Conyers’s Office today was not immediately returned.

When Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, was asked the same question, “It’s not on the agenda,” he replied.

Does that mean that no information obtained could lead to impeachment? “I couldn’t speculate on such a hypothetical question. I think it was pretty clear to the media. I’ve never received this question before. I can’t speculate on possible future activity. She said it’s not worth it. It’s too much of a distraction,” Hammill said.

So, if one cannot speculate on possible future activity, then the “off the table” statement comment must have been referring to current knowledge, right? “It’s off the table for this Congress.”

So, wouldn’t that be speculating to make a statement regarding the rest of the Session?

“I’m not going to play word games,” Pelosi’s spokesman added.

No Democrats on the House Judiciary have cosponsored H Res 333, as was also the case last Session with H Res 635. Current Judiciary Democrats are US Reps. Baldwin (D-WI), Berman (D-CA), Boucher (D-VA), Cohen (D-TN), Chairman Conyers (D-MI), Davis (D-AL), Delahunt (D-MA), Ellison (D-MN), Gutierrez (D-IL), Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Johnson (D-GA), Lofgren (D-CA), Meehan (D-MA), Nadler (D-NY), Sanchez (D-CA), Schiff (D-CA), Scott (D-VA), Sherman (D-CA), Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), Waters (D-CA), Watt (D-NC), Weiner (D-NY), and Wexler (D-FL).

Of these current House Judiciary members, US Reps. Baldwin, Conyers, Jackson-Lee, Nadler, and Waters had all been cosponsors of H Res 635.

COSPONSORS SPEAK OUT

“This Administration has continued to erode the trust of the American people and enough is simply enough,” stated US Rep. Clarke in a press release issued first to Atlanta Progressive News.

“H.Res. 333 was introduced to the House of Representatives by Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio on April 24, 2007, and asserts that the vice president manipulated intelligence to make the case for going to war with Iraq, falsified a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda, and has threatened aggression against Iran,” US Rep. Clarke says.

“When the American people voted on November 7th, they asked for a change in direction by electing the Democratic party in the House and Senate. I have heard the loud cries of my constituents, and they want accountability. My support of HRes 333 reflects the voices of the residents of central Brooklyn.”

Congresswoman Clarke is her own woman and “does not follow the crowd,” her spokesperson said, adding that constituents had regularly lobbied her to co-sponsor this bill.

“Vice President Dick Cheney is the architect of the Administration’s deception about the war. Cheney persistently and deliberately deceived the Congress and the American people about the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction and the alleged link between Saddam Hussein and the attack on September 11th. There should be a serious dialogue about the conduct of this Administration. Cheney should be held accountable for purposely misleading the American people. Despite the obvious lack of success on the ground, Vice President Cheney continued a barrage of propaganda claiming that we were winning the war and successfully rebuilding Iraq which is patently false. His statements and representations about the situation in Iraq amount to malfeasance for which he should be taken to task,” said Wynn in a press release prepared for Atlanta Progressive News.

“At the urging of my constituents in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District, and from Americans across the country, I cosponsored Congressman Kucinich’s resolution regarding the impeachment of the Vice President because I believe that Mr. Cheney deliberately manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the Congress of the United States and the American people. That deception has resulted in a tragic, unnecessary war that has already cost the lives of over 3,300 brave Americans and has cost the taxpayers over $400 billion. The arrogant abuse of power and the complete disregard for the truth needs to stop,” US Rep. Clay said in a statement prepared for Atlanta Progressive News.

US Rep. Schakowsky (D-IL) recently told The Daily Northwestern college newspaper that Cheney misled the public by “intentionally manipulating intelligence in order to launch an elective war against Iraq. I believe it is crucial that the U.S. House of Representatives investigate the vice president’s actions to determine if he should be impeached for lying to the American people to justify the war in Iraq.”

MISSING IN ACTION

Missing in action was US Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) who had told WAOK radio in December 2005 he would sign a bill of impeachment of President Bush should it come across his desk [crimes committed by Bush would equally apply to Cheney in this case]. Of course, Lewis did not cosponsor US Rep. Cynthia McKinney’s (D-GA) bill filed at the end of the last Session which would have impeached Bush either.

Other MIAs include US Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) who recently made comments that she thought impeaching Cheney was a good idea, as reported by AfterDowningStreet.org [Waters’s Office has not returned a call seeking comment]; and US Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who supported impeachment in the Minnesota legislature and campaigned for US Congress on the issue. This list could go on.

SIGNIFICANCE OF COSPONSORS

The new cosponsorships on Kucinich’s bill are significant for a number of reasons. First, it shows there is more than one Member of Congress willing to entertain real accountability for the Bush Administration, despite the insistence of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that impeachment is off the table.

Also, this bill is calling for actual Articles of Impeachment for Cheney, unlike the last bill which not only was related to Mr. Bush, but created an investigative committee to look into possible impeachment rather than providing for actual possible impeachment.

Therefore, cosponsorships on H Res 333 have even more weight than those which were listed on H Res 635 last Session.

Also, since the time of H Res 635, Democrats have taken control of both the US House and Senate. Thus, impeachment is even more a real possibility on account of having the potential Democratic support for the bill, even though most Democrats currently aren’t rushing to impeach Bush.

Because Democrats are now the Majority in Congress, we also now know that Bush refuses to be accountable to Congress, particularly on the US Invasion of Iraq. Bush has now vetoed historic legislation to attach funding for the Occupation with a deadline for withdrawal. Thus, it is now even more clear that traditional oversight mechanisms will not be effective.

The 39 total co-sponsors of H Res. 635 were US Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Rep. Jackson, Jr., (D-IL), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), Rep. John Olver (D-MA), Rep. Major Owens (D-NY), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), Rep. Martin Sabo (D-MN), Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), Rep. Fortney Pete Stark (D-CA), Rep. John Tierney (D-MA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Dianne Watson (D-CA), Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Rep. David Wu (D-OR).

It was largely viewed that US Rep. Conyers, the original sponsor of H Res 635, did not re-file his bill out of respect to Pelosi and his desire to be appointed Chair of the Judiciary Committee. Moreover, several Members of Congress have stated that they have followed in Conyers’s steps in choosing not to introduce similar bills of their own.

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor of Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com.

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This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.

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