- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2006

As the odds of a Democratic takeover of the House improved in recent days, the Bush administration’s concerns about unrestrained subpoena power wielded by Democrats have no doubt become greater. Directly through the issuance of subpoenas in oversight proceedings and indirectly through control of the purse, Democrats threaten to thwart the Bush foreign policy during the final two years of the president’s second term.

Within the past year, Rep. John Conyers, who in a Democrat-controlled House would become chairman of the Judiciary Committee (where articles of impeachment are drafted), has called for a resolution seeking an investigation into “those offenses which appear to rise to the level of impeachment” of President Bush. When such incendiary statements threatened to expose the Democrats’ real agenda, he soft-pedaled his rhetoric. Writing in The Washington Post in May, Mr. Conyers addressed the rapidly spreading assertion that he “would immediately begin impeachment proceedings” against the president. “I will not do that,” Mr. Conyers declared. The operative word was “immediately.”

“Rather than seeking impeachment” immediately, Mr. Conyers said he would propose “comprehensive oversight” to be performed by a bipartisan select committee that would investigate what Mr. Conyers considers to be “potentially impeachable offenses.” Any “evidence” would then be forwarded to the Judiciary Committee, where impeachment would be considered.

Then there’s Rep. Alcee Hastings, whom presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reportedly decided to appoint as chairman of Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In 1988, then-U.S. District Judge Hastings was impeached by a Democratic-controlled House (413-3). In 1989, a Democrat-controlled Senate convicted him of accepting a $150,000 bribe and committing numerous acts of perjury. It is impossible to imagine anyone with more questionable credentials to lead the intelligence committee.

Meanwhile, Rep. Charles Rangel, a co-founder of the Out of Iraq Caucus, would become chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He has threatened to lead the charge to deny funding for military operations in Iraq. Lamenting that his opposition alone “can’t stop this war,” Mr. Rangel recently revealed his indirect strategy. “You’ve got to be able to pay for the war, don’t you?” Among the more than 70 members of the Out of Iraq Caucus are eight other prospective committee chairmen, including Barney Frank (Financial Services), George Miller (Education & Workforce), James Oberstar (Transportation & Infrastructure) and Nick Rahall (Resources).

Also worth noting: More than 60 percent of House Democrats opposed the 2002 resolution to use force against Iraq. With so many committee chairmen leading the way, it is now possible to imagine a nearly unanimous Democratic caucus — and thus a House majority — voting next year to withhold funding for military operations in Iraq.

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