Sunday, April 22, 2007

"Vermont Senate approves impeachment resolution"

Sen. Peter Shumlin, D-Windham (left), confers with a legislative staff member at the Statehouse on the opening day of the Legislature Wednesday January 3, 2007.
Burlington Free Press (VT):
MONTPELIER — Without a single speech, the Vermont Senate voted 16-9 early this morning to support a resolution urging the initiation of impeachment proceedings in Congress against President George Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney.
Senators listened as the resolution was read, then Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin, who was presiding in Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie’s absence, called for the vote.

All 16 supporters were Democrats. Three Democrats joined six Republicans in voting against the resolution. Senate Republican Leader William Doyle of Washington County said the charges didn’t meet the test set out in the U.s. Constitution.

The resolution lists three reasons why the Vermont Senate was urging Congress to pursue impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney:
--The nation’s top leaders had carried out their duties in ways that raised “serious questions of constitutionality, statutory legality and abuse of public trust.”
-- In leading the nation to war in Iraq and continually advocating that they stay, Bush and Cheney have cost the country much of the good will extended in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.
--Their leadership on matters of individual privacy and personal liberty raise constitutional questions of great concern to citizens.

Jimmy Leas of South Burlington, wearing a red, white and blue ‘Impeach Bush and Cheney’ pin on his lapel, was in the Statehouse moments after the 8:30 a.m. vote — which was completed before some senators had even arrived in the chamber.

“This is a great achievement,” Leas declared. “I think it is going to inspire people all over the country. Now that it has passed in the Vermont Senate, hopefully it will pass in other places.”

Leas said he received word late Thursday that the Senate might consider an impeachment resolution. Earlier in the week, Shumlin and House Speaker Gaye Symington, D-Jericho, had disappointed a crowd of 130 impeachment supporters by saying they weren’t going to take time from the busy end-of-session schedule for an impeachment debate.

Friday, Shumlin joined Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, in sponsoring the impeachment resolution and asked another senator to preside so he could cast his vote for its passage.

“It’s no secret I supported it all along,” Shumlin explained. “I felt badly I hadn’t advanced it.”

Shumlin had an opportunity Friday to bring up the resolution for a quick vote because of Dubie’s absence. If Dubie had been presiding, he could have referred the resolution to the Senate Judiciary Committee for review and that would have killed the measure for this session. The Senate Judiciary Committee is no longer meeting.

Shumlin said he called Dubie and told him what he planned to do. “I didn’t want him to feel blindsided.”

“Peter Shumlin is really a hero,” Leas declared, between cell phone calls with other supporters. “Peter Shumlin deserves a lot of credit for listening to the people, listening to his conscience and taking action.”

Sen. Richard McCormack, D-Windsor, had a similar resolution ready to offer, but withdrew it. He had let Senate leaders know after Tuesday’s rally that he would offer a resolution. His regret Friday was he didn’t get a chance to sign on as a sponsor of the resolution that passed.

“I don’t think Bush will get impeached, but it is an important statement,” McCormack said. “The president has wrapped himself in the flag and there are a lot of good people who think it is more patriotic to support Bush than oppose him.”

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