House Dem defends leadership decision to quash impeachment
A House Democratic leader defended the party's decision not to pursue the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney, saying an effort to oust the man who is among the most vocal pushing for war with Iran is "not even in the top 10" of voters' priorities and would benefit Republicans at the polls next year.
In a heated exchange Thursday with liberal radio host Ed Schultz, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the deputy Democratic whip, said the party, which dramatically swept into power last year, was more focused on other priorities.
Voters asked Congress "to focus on withdrawing our troops from iraq, on expanding healthcare access. ... They did not ask us to spend any time on the impeachment of the vice president," Wasserman Schultz insisted.
Impeachment would prevent Congress from addressing issues like the war in Iraq, healthcare, renewable energy and the environment.
"That is all the media would focus on. ... And to what end?" she asked, arguing that Bush was the real problem and removing Cheney wouldn't make a significant difference with only a year until the next election.
"We need to tough out the next 12 months and focus hard on the results-oriented Democratic Congress that we know we are," she said.
Schultz argued that results were precisely what was lacking -- especially Democrats' inability to force a change in course in the president's war in Iraq.
"This president has gotten everything that he's wanted from the Democratic Congress since the day you folks took power," the host charged.
Schultz said Democrats need to stand firm and refuse to pass any more funding for the war in Iraq; he said Cheney's impeachment might be the country's best hope to avoid war in Iran.
This week, Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich brought a privileged resolution to the House floor that would have impeached Cheney. Republicans foiled an attempt by Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to kill the motion, and the bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee. Wasserman Schultz voted for Hoyer's motion to table the impeachment bill, and she was defending that vote on Schultz's show Thursday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said Conyer's committee would not begin impeachment hearings, although several members of the committee are co-sponsors of Kucinich's impeachment resolution. Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), who's district neighbors Wasserman Schultz's, called for the committee to "schedule impeachment hearings immediately".
"I believe Robert Wexler is off base," Wasserman Schultz said.
The following audio clip is from the Ed Schultz Show Thusday, Nov. 8.