WASHINGTON -- Republicans in the newly sworn in House renewed yesterday the authority of 13 lawmakers to prosecute President Clinton in the Senate, turning back the efforts of Democrats to reject the procedural vote and scuttle the trial.
"This resolution is a simple, straightforward housekeeping resolution," said Rep. Henry J. Hyde, an Illinois Republican. "It should be noncontroversial."
As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Hyde is the leader of the House prosecutors, or trial "managers."
"It is imperative that the House take this action today so we can proceed with our constitutional duty," Hyde said during an hourlong debate on the vote. The previous authorization of House prosecutors to participate in a Senate trial expired with the end of the 105th Congress. The 106th Congress was sworn in yesterday.
House Democrats used the debate as a last opportunity to try to derail the trial, saying that the impeachment of the president was partisan and unfounded.
"The net result was an impeachment totally lacking in credibility," said Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. "We have a final opportunity to put this salacious subject behind us. A vote for the appointment of the managers is a vote for a protracted trial."
The final vote was 223-198, with seven members not voting.
Maryland's House delegation divided along party lines, with all four of the state's Republicans voting in favor of authorizing the prosecution of Clinton.
Two of the four Democrats -- Reps. Elijah E. Cummings of Baltimore and Albert R. Wynn of Prince George's County voted against it. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin of Baltimore County did not vote, and the fourth Democrat, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Southern Maryland, could not take part in yesterday's proceedings because he was attending the funeral of a relative.
Rep. Constance A. Morella of Montgomery County, one of a handful of Republicans who had voted against impeachment in the House, voted in favor of approving the prosecutors.
"It was a fait accompli," said Bill Miller, Morella's chief of staff. "The will of the House has spoken. This was just a procedural vote."
Pub Date: 1/07/99