Shay Totten / Vermont Guardian & Associated Press – 2007-04-22 23:07:49
Vermont Senate Calls for Impeachment of Bush, Cheney
Shay Totten / Vermont Guardian
[Vermont Guardian Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 5 p.m. with comments from the Congressional delegation and Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, and Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie.]
MONTPELIER (April 20, 2007) — The Vermont Senate this morning approved by a 16-9 margin a non–binding resolution calling on the U.S. House to launch impeachment proceedings of Pres. George W. Bush and Vice Pres. Dick Cheney.
The Vermont Senate is the first state legislative body in the country to call on Congress to begin impeachment proceedings. Impeachment resolutions are currently active in Hawaii, Missouri, New Jersey, and Washington. A measure in New Mexico was quashed earlier this year.
The move comes just days after nearly 150 people from around Vermont converged on Montpelier to urge lawmakers to pass such a resolution out of the House and Senate. The emotionally-charged, 40-minute meeting left backers hopeful that something could happen this session.
Today’s resolution was introduced by Senate Pres. Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, D-Windham, and Sen. Jeannette White, D-Windham. The process began last night when Senate Majority Leader Dick McCormick, D-Windsor, introduced a resolution. However, his resolution did not include Cheney. The resolution by Shumlin and White did include Cheney.
The vote took place early in the morning and was over in less than 15 minutes.
Three Democrats — Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, Sen. Dick Mazza, D-Chittenden/Grand Isle, and Sen. Bill Carris, D-Rutland — joined six Republicans in voting against the resolution. One Republican — Sen. George Coppenrath, R-Caledonia, was absent at the time of the vote.
Shumlin told the Guardian that Tuesday’s meeting left an impression upon him, and motivated him to respond.
“I was deeply moved by the meeting on Tuesday and I’ve been a supporter of this consistently from the beginning,” said Shumlin. “There hasn’t been a president of the United States of America who has worked harder for impeachment hearings than Pres. Bush, and Vice Pres. Cheney.”
After Tuesday’s meeting, Shumlin said he read, and listened to, news reports and didn’t like what he heard.
“I didn’t like myself and I wanted to find a way to fix it,” said Shumlin. “The neat thing about the Vermont Legislature is that we listen to citizens.”
Shumlin began to quietly work with Democrats, and Republicans, to allow an up or down vote on an impeachment resolution without it being sent to committee.
“It any one senator this morning had asked for it to go to committee, I would have had to honor that request and it would have been dead for the year,” said Shumlin.
Shumlin presided over today’s vote as the normal presiding officer — Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie — is out of town for two days. Shumlin did let Dubie know he was going to try to get the measure passed.
Dubie issued a statement decrying the passage of the resolution.
“I lost close friends on Sept 11,” Dubie said. “I am a pilot for American Airlines. I fly out of Boston’s Logan International Airport. The Captain of American Airlines flight 11, John Ogonowski, was my friend. The flight attendants were my friends. After the attacks of Sept. 11, I was deployed to New York City in my job as a US Air Force Reservist, to help in the disaster response effort. I met Pres. Bush when he came to Ground Zero to thank me and the thousands of other workers. The president earned my respect and support that day.
“I do not support this resolution. When it comes to my desk for my signature next week, I will not sign it,” Dubie added.
Dubie’s signature is not required for the resolution to go into effect.
White said there was not a word of debate, but a simple roll call vote, which took only a few minutes.
“I think people realized that a debate wasn’t going to change anyone’s mind and if one person had said something and then every person would have to have their say,” said White. “I think people recognized that some of us really wanted to do this.”
White said the resolution will be sent directly to Congress, and not wait for a House vote.
There, the resolution is expected to get a chilly reception, at least from the state’s own delegation.
In a joint statement, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, and Rep. Peter Welch, D-VT, said they understood Vermonters’ frustration and anger, but cautioned about rushing headling into impeachment.
“As Vermont’s representatives to Congress we fully understand and share the frustration and anger of Vermont legislators and many Vermonters with the Bush administration — one of the worst and most destructive in American history,” the trio said in a statement. “Currently, for the first time since Pres. Bush has been in office, there are a number of investigations taking place regarding the actions of the Bush administration, including how and why we invaded Iraq, no-bid contracts, the firing of U.S. attorneys by the attorney general, the assault on constitutional rights and the use of Republican Party e-mails in the White House. Before we talk about impeachment, it is imperative that these investigations be allowed to run their course and we should then follow wherever the facts lead.
“In the meantime, in our view, the people of Vermont want us to focus our attention on such issues as ending the war in Iraq, protecting the needs of our veterans, raising the minimum wage, addressing the crisis of global warming and providing health care to all of our citizens,” they added.
Vermont Senate Calls for Impeachment of Bush
MONTPELIER, Vermont (April 20, 2007) — Vermont senators voted Friday to call for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, saying their actions in Iraq and the U.S. “raise serious questions of constitutionality.”
The non-binding resolution was approved 16-9 without debate — all six Republicans in the chamber at the time and three Democrats voted against it. The resolution was the latest, symbolic, effort in the state to impeach Bush. In March, 40 towns in the state known for its liberal leaning voted in favor of similar, non-binding resolutions at their annual meetings. State lawmakers in Wisconsin and Washington have also pushed for similar resolutions.
The resolution says Bush and Cheney’s actions in the U.S. and abroad, including in Iraq, “raise serious questions of constitutionality, statutory legality, and abuse of the public trust.”
“I think it’s going to have a tremendous political effect, a tremendous political effect on public discourse about what to do about this president,” said James Leas, a vocal advocate of withdrawing troops from Iraq and impeaching Bush and Cheney.
Vermont lawmakers earlier voted to demand an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq in another non-binding resolution.
Democratic House Speaker Gaye Symington has kept a similar resolution from reaching the floor in her chamber. She argued that an impeachment resolution would be partisan and divisive and that it would distract Washington from efforts to get the United States out of Iraq, which she says is more important.
In the Senate, Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie had opposed the resolution, but he was absent Friday. That left Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin in charge, and he immediately took up the measure.
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