House Democratic leaders took the unusual position of defending Vice President Dick Cheney against impeachment charges today by squelching a bid by Republicans and a few Democrats to force a debate on the issue.
Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, who is running for president, sponsored the resolution, which accuses Cheney of misrepresenting intelligence in order to spark a war with Iran.
Democratic leaders opposed the measure, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, proposed shelving the resolution.
``Impeachment is not on our agenda,'' he said.
A group of Democrats and more than 150 Republicans joined together to reject Hoyer's bid to kill the measure.
Republicans sought to embarrass the Democratic leaders by forcing a vote on the impeachment, which most Democrats were likely to oppose. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said when Democrats gained control of Congress in January that she wouldn't allow any efforts to impeach of Cheney or President George W. Bush.
Republican Representative Dave Weldon of Florida said the impeachment resolution was so ``absurd'' that it is ``to our advantage to actually debate this.''
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said congressional Democrats were wasting time with the measure.
``This Congress has not sent a single appropriations bill to the president's desk this year -- a new record of failure,'' Perino said. ``Yet, they find time to spend an entire work period on futile votes to impeach the vice president or to pass contempt citations against the president's chief of staff and former counsel. It is this behavior that leaves the American people shaking their head in wonder at this Congress.''
After losing his first bid to kill the impeachment resolution, Hoyer proposed sending the issue to a committee. That vote passed 218-194, ending debate on the issue. ( Bloomberg )