Once the article reached the critical 218 votes needed for passage, a muffled, perhaps rueful, cheer rose from the House floor, with scattered clapping in the otherwise silent public galleries.
On the other side of the world, at that moment, the skies over Baghdad
flared with anti-aircraft fire as the fourth wave of U.S. air attacks on Iraq
The Republicans barely managed to approve another impeachment article,
which charges that Clinton obstructed justice to hide his affair with
Lewinsky. The vote was 221-212, with 12 Republicans voting against it.
On a parliamentary maneuver, the House also beat back a Democratic effort
to introduce a resolution censuring Clinton instead of impeaching him. The
vote to declare the censure resolution to be irrelevant to the proceedings
passed 230-204, with four Democrats joining the Republican majority, and two
Republicans joining the Democrats.
The House narrowly defeated, 229-205, an article of impeachment that
accused Clinton of perjury in the Paula Corbin Jones sexual misconduct
lawsuit. Twenty-seven Republicans joined the Democrats and the House's single
independent to defeat it.
The House also decisively defeated the fourth and final article of
impeachment, charging that Clinton abused the power of his office by lying to
Congress. That vote was 285-148.
But in approving two of the four articles, House Republicans stained
Clinton with only the second presidential impeachment in the nation's history.
The vote appeared to ensure that what House Democratic Whip David E.
Bonior of Michigan called "this whole sorry episode" would stretch well into
next year -- with ever-weightier implications for the nation and the balance
of power between the presidency and the Congress.
Republican leaders said it was the price to be paid for defending "the
rule of law," for expunging the example of lawlessness they say has been set
by the nation's chief executive, and to eradicate what House Republican leader
Armey called "a cancer spreading through the nation."
"The evidence is overwhelming; the question is elementary," said Rep.
James E. Rogan of California, one of the House-appointed Republican
"The president was obliged under his sacred oath faithfully to execute our
nation's laws. Yet he repeatedly perjured himself and obstructed justice, not
for any noble purpose, but to crush a humble, lone woman's right to be
afforded access to the courts.
"When they are old enough to appreciate today's solemnity," he said, "I
want my young daughters to know that when the last roll was called, their
father served in a House faithful to the guiding principle that no person is
above the law, and he served with colleagues who counted it a privilege to
risk political fortune in defense of the Constitution."
If the proceedings were not strange enough, Livingston stood up on the
House floor to throw down the gauntlet to Clinton, challenging him to resign
from office, and backing that challenge by resigning himself, not only from
the speakership that he was to assume next year but also from the House of
"To the president, I would say: 'Sir, you have done great damage to this
nation over this past year. You have the power to terminate that damage and
heal the wounds that you have created. You, sir, may resign your post,' "
Livingston declared from the House floor before the vote.
The White House will try to enlist former Senate Democratic leader George
J. Mitchell to lead Clinton's Senate defense team and has even begun reaching
out to the president's 1996 election rival, Bob Dole, to help defuse the
crisis in the coming months.
But the president may no longer control his own destiny. House Judiciary
Committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde, accompanied by the other 11 House
impeachment managers, ceremoniously delivered the two articles of impeachment
to the Senate at 3 p.m.
And Senate Republican leader Trent Lott immediately set in motion the
steps to convene a Senate impeachment trial, prosecuted by House Republicans
and presided over daily by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.
"Senators will be prepared to fulfill their constitutional obligations,"
Lott said in a written statement. "Each senator will take an oath to 'do
impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws; so help me God.' "
Already Senate Democrats are appealing to moderate Republicans and the
White House to find some way to head off a lengthy trial, possibly with an
agreement to censure Clinton and fine him.
"Over the past year, our country has suffered through difficult and
divisive times," said Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.
"The Senate should now seek to bind those wounds, and we can do that by
proceeding in a manner that is fair, dignified and completely nonpartisan."
Clinton impeached, faces trial in Senate
Partisan vote in House passes obstruction of justice, perjury articles; GOP says outcome shows even president is not above the law
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