House votes to cast Bush impeachment articles into legislative limbo
WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to send articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush to a committee that is not likely to hold hearings before the end of his term next Jan. 20.
By 251-166, House members dispatched the measure to a committee on Wednesday _ a procedure often used to kill legislation.
The leader of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, long ago declared the prospects for impeachment proceedings ``off the table.''
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat who ran for president earlier this year, insists that his resolution deserves more consideration. He spent more than four hours Monday night reading his 35 articles of impeachment into the record, including charges that Bush manufactured a false case for going to war against Iraq.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday that the Democratic-led Congress was holding the Bush administration accountable and questioned spending time on impeachment in the ``waning months of this administration's tenure.''
An election looms in which every House seat, a third of those in the Senate and the presidency are up for grabs. House leaders are staunchly against spending the remaining time in the abbreviated legislative schedule on impeachment proceedings.
The House vote sent the impeachment articles to the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat who had once vowed to hold impeachment hearings. He would not immediately comment on the articles' prospects for hearings.
Democratic aides 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 is 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.
Kucinich's articles also charge Bush with failing to provide troops with vehicle armor, illegally detaining both foreign nationals and Americans, condoning torture, mishandling the government's response to Hurricane Katrina and undermining efforts to address global warning.
``It is imperative that members of Congress have a thorough opportunity to read the articles of impeachment and study the documentation,'' Kucinich said in a statement.
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