House Democrats on Tuesday narrowly managed to avert a bruising debate on a proposal to impeach Dick Cheney after Republicans, in a surprise maneuver, voted in favor of taking up the measure.
Republicans, changing course midway through a vote, tried to force Democrats into a debate on the resolution sponsored by longshot presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.
The anti-war Ohio Democrat, in his resolution, accused Cheney of purposely leading the country into war against Iraq and manipulating intelligence about Iraq's ties with al-Qaida.
The GOP tactics reversed what had been expected to be an overwhelming vote to table, or kill, the resolution.
Midway through the vote, with instructions from the GOP leadership, Republicans one by one changed their votes from yes — to kill the resolution — to no, trying to force the chamber into a debate and an up-or-down vote on the proposal.
At one point there were 290 votes to table. After the turnaround, the final vote was 251-162 against tabling, with 165 Republicans voting against it.
"We're going to help them out, to explain themselves," said Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas. "We're going to give them their day in court."
Democrats countered by offering a motion to refer the proposal to the House Judiciary Committee for further study, effectively preventing a debate on the House floor. That motion passed by a largely party-line vote of 218-194.
They want to gimpeach, they really do, but they know it'll be the death of the Democrat Party.