Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Anti-war Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich yesterday introduced a 2-inch-thick articles of impeachment bill against Vice President Dick Cheney — a move supported by few Democrats, who prefer focusing on congressional oversight of the Bush administration.

The Ohio Democrat and presidential candidate said he is pushing impeachment because the vice president “sought to deceive” the nation in the lead-up to the Iraq war and is threatening war with Iran.

“Now is the time for Congress to examine the actions that led us into this war just as we must work to bring the troops home,” said Mr. Kucinich, who opposed the war in October 2002 and says his effort is beyond partisanship.

Many Democrats have taken a broader approach to reproving the Bush administration, holding more than 150 oversight hearings since January and pushing bills to try to change Iraq policy.

“I wake up every day and think that it’s one more day closer to when I don’t have to have either George Bush or Dick Cheney leading this country, and I can’t wait for that day to come,” said Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher, California Democrat. “But I’m very concerned that as much as I really don’t like Vice President Cheney, I really think that impeachment would be a distraction.”

Few Democrats revealed how they would vote on the measure should it reach the floor, but Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, indicated yesterday that such a move was unlikely.

“Some time ago, Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi indicated that what we need to do is focus on the substance of the issues at hand, and that’s what we’re going to do. That’s as far as I’m going to go,” Mr. Hoyer responded to a reporter’s question on whether the impeachment bill would see the “light of day.”

Mrs. Pelosi has said repeatedly that Democrats will not push for impeachment, even though several Democrats say their constituents are clamoring for it. Mr. Kucinich’s bill has no co-sponsors.

Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, last year said he wanted to open an impeachment investigation, but he has backed off such intentions this year. He and his staff said they would not respond to requests for comment yesterday because Mr. Conyers’ panel will receive Mr. Kucinich’s bill for consideration.

Mr. Kucinich said he was pursuing Mr. Cheney to prevent him from becoming president in case Mr. Bush was impeached and removed from office. “You would then have to go through the constitutional agony of impeaching two presidents consecutively,” he said.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the Democratic Caucus, dodged questions about the Kucinich bill, as did Rep. George Miller, California Democrat.

“No, no, stop,” Mr. Miller told a reporter from The Washington Times after being asked about it twice yesterday.

Rep. Jim McGovern, Massachusetts Democrat, said Congress instead should use its power to try to end the war, even though he thinks Mr. Cheney is “the worst vice president in the history of America.”

Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, said of the impeachment bill: “I’m not going to sponsor it; I’m not going to support it.”

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