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US Rep Hinchey, Others Offer Bush Censure Bills
By Jonathan Springston, Atlanta Progressive News
(APN) ATLANTA – Two Democratic lawmakers will introduce censure resolutions next week concerning President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and other Bush Administration officials over the US Invasion of Iraq and other abuses of executive power, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.
US Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) announced he will introduce two censure resolutions in the US House, which will serve as companions to two censure resolutions which US Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) announced he will introduce in the Senate.
"The American people have reached a breaking point with this administration and they are demanding that Congress step up and hold the president, vice president, and others in the executive branch responsible for their actions," Hinchey said in a press release obtained by APN.
"While President Bush and Vice President Cheney continue to operate as if they are leaders of a monarchy, Congress should censure them and make it clear to this and future generations that their actions are entirely unacceptable," he added.
Hinchey and Feingold’s resolutions will be the most comprehensive censure bills this year.
However, a couple weeks ago, US Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) introduced a censure resolution focusing more on Bush’s pardon of Scooter Libby. Mr. Libby misled a US Attorney regarding the Administration’s leaking to the media the name of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame. Wexler’s resolution also cited Bush’s manipulation of US intelligence regarding Iraq.
Wexler’s resolution, H Res 530, currently has 21 total cosponsors. They are US Reps. Baldwin (D-WI), Blumenauer (D-OR), Brady (D-PA), Capuano (D-MA), Clay (D-MO), Clyburn (D-SC), Cohen (D-TN), DeFazio (D-OR), Farr (D-CA), Filner (D-CA), Hall (D-NY), Hooley (D-OR), Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Maloney (D-NY), Michaud (D-ME), Schakowsky (D-IL), Welch (D-VT), Wexler (D-FL), Woolsey (D-CA), Wu (D-OR), and Wynn (D-MD).
Also, Feingold had previously introduced a censure resolution, S. Res 398 in the US Senate during the last Congressional Session, but chose not to reintroduce this resolution at the beginning of this Session, despite its gaining 3 additional cosponsors, US Sens. Boxer (D-CA), Harkin (D-IA), and Kerry (D-MA). Hearings were held on this bill in the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee in March of 2006.
Hinchey and Feingold’s first censure bill this Session focuses on President Bush and Vice President Cheney’s role in deceiving Congress and the public over the need for the US to invade Iraq, as well as the mismanagement of the occupation.
The resolution will cite false statements made to the public about Iraq’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction and misleading statements about the connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.
In addition, the first censure will condemn Bush and Cheney for failing to plan adequately for civil strife that was bound to occur after the invasion and for stretching the US military too thin.
"I thank Congressman Hinchey for his willingness to stand up to this administration for its misleading statements leading up to and during our military involvement in Iraq, as well as its attack on the rule of law," Feingold said in a separate press release obtained by APN.
“Congress needs to formally condemn the president and members of the administration for misconduct before and during the Iraq war, and for undermining the rule of law at home,” he added.
Hinchey and Feingold’s second censure piece will focus on, among other things, the illegal NSA warrantless wiretapping surveillance program; extreme policies on torture and the disregard for the Geneva Conventions; the firing of US Attorneys and the failure to submit to congressional oversight on the issue; and the abuse of power through presidential signing statements.
"If Congress does not act to formally admonish this White House then the future of our democracy will be placed on a slippery slope in which other presidents may point to the actions of this administration as justification for further abuses of the Constitution," Hinchey said.
"Censure is not a cure for the devastating toll this administration’s actions have taken on this country," Feingold said.
"But when future generations look back at the terrible misconduct of this administration, they need to see that a co-equal branch of government stood up and held to account those who violated the principles on which this nation was founded," he added.
Hinchey and Feingold are continuing to work on the language of their resolutions in order to attract the broadest support among their colleagues and are soliciting input from their constituents and the American people at large.
"At my town hall meetings, online, and everywhere I go, I hear the American people demanding the president and his administration be held accountable for their misconduct, both with regard to the disastrous war in Iraq and their flagrant abuse of the rule of law," Feingold said.
"Censure is a relatively modest response, but one that puts Congress on record condemning their actions, both for the American people today and for future generations," he added.
A less modest response than censure, of course, is impeachment. No Member of Congress–other than former US Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) last Session–has introduced legislation regarding the impeachment of Bush. McKinney’s bill had no cosponsors.
US Rep. Conyers (D-MI) had a bill last Session, H Res 635, which would have created a Select Committee to investigate grounds of possibly impeaching Bush. It had 39 total cosponsors but was not reintroduced this Session.
US Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) has a current bill, H Res 333, which is Articles of Impeachment of Vice President Cheney. That bill currently has 15 total cosponsors, including US Reps. Kucinich (D-OH), Robert Brady (D-PA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Sam Farr (D-CA), Bob Filner (D-CA), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), James Moran (D-VA), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Albert Wynn (D-MD), so far.
Several Members of Congress have supported Conyers’s bill to investigate Bush, Kucinich’s bill to impeach Cheney, and Wexler’s bill to censure Bush.
Others including US Rep. Welch had constituents plead with them to support impeachment, but he seems to have chosen a less threatening approach.
Still others such as US Reps. Baldwin and Wu supported Conyers’s bill last Session and Wexler’s bill this Session, but have not supported Kucinich’s impeachment bill. Censure may be a less controversial option for them as well.
This article contains additional reporting by Matthew Cardinale, News Editor, The Atlanta Progressive News
About the author:
Jonathan Springston is a Senior Staff Writer for The Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at email@example.com