Packed House and Drama: Impeachment Hearing 1/17
Well over 100 people filled Hearing Room 2 and an overflow room in the Cherberg Building today to hear statements in support of SJM 8016 calling for impeachment investigations. Only a handful of people got to speak but those who did spoke eloquently on their desire to see the Constitution restored.
The seriousness of the debate was disturbed when the lone Republican on the Committee, Senator Pam Roach, showed up late. Abandoning any pretense of civility, she sat down with a look of pure disgust as the last person on the panel was speaking. After the panel finished, she took over the microphone and challenged the legitimacy of the hearing. She shouted that she was going to complain to the ethics committee because this committee was engaged in political campaigning on state time and using state resources.
Roach argued that this hearing was political because this was an election year—her assumption being, I guess, that impeachment would be good for the Democrats. Of course, the Democrats in DC, under Pelosi's assumptions, believe impeachment would be bad for Democrats. It was bizarre.
Curiously, however, Roach neither defended the actions of the Bush/Cheney nor did she refute the allegations listed in the memorial. She just vented. Whipping out a picture of her son who serves in the military, she argued that she supports the war and will pray for her son when he goes to Iraq to help those people. She was, she said, proud of her son who volunteered to serve. It was an emotional ploy to change the discourse from the Consitutional issues and make it all about her.
Her pugnacious attitude drew a reaction from the crowd. A few reminded her that citizens have a right to speak and others pointed out that she was not the only person in the room with family in the military. There were many veterans among the impeachment crowd, so her point was misguided. As the Chair tried to regain order, Roach left the room as if her hissy fit was of some importance. I hope someone posts it to YouTube—it is a laughable performance!
On the plus side, her inappropriate behavior did not stop the hearing nor diminish the serious issues being discussed. Over 39 people signed up to speak but only 5 people plus Representatives Chase and Hasegawa (co-sponsors of the companion bill HJM 4027) made statements because of the very limited time available.
The Chair did ask if anyone wished to speak against the SJM 8016. No one in that packed hearing room stepped forward.
Senator Oemig made the opening statement at the meeting that started at 3:30 with only the Democratic members of the committee present: Fairley (chair), Pridemore, Kline and McDermott. He said it was unfortunately necessary for the state legislature to act. Since he first introduced the bill ten months ago, there are more abuses, he said, the most recent being the White House destruction of emails. "We can no longer hope and pray that these abuses will stop," he said. The state legislature must act. "If we fail to pass this memorial, we will tell Washingtonians that we are as unwilling as Congress to take a stand to protect the Constitution."
Impeachment is not about getting rid of the President or Vice President, Oemig pointed out. Neither is it about politics. It is about restoring the Constitution and ensuring that the actions of this Presidency do not become a permanent change in power for all future presidents.
Both Representatives Chase and Hasegawa, the co-sponsors of the companion bill HJM 4027, echoed his sentiments. Representative Chase had anticipated Roach's argument. "Some people we say that what we are doing today is political," she said. "But I say it is our Constitutional duty." She warned against the evil that comes from refusing to do what is right, when good people do nothing.
Representative Hasegawa said impeachment is the most important issue facing our country today. "We all took an oath of office," he said. But it was more than that. "How can I face my children if I do not act on this to restore our fundamental principles of truth and justice, the values that hold us together?"
Carole Waller, Richard Behan and Linda Boyd echoed the themes of the necessity to restore the Constitution and to hold the President and Vice President to account for their actions. "Nothing is more important than the Constitution," said Linda Boyd. Her voice broke as she contemplated the idea that our government is "illegitimate." "We are turning to you," she told the committee, 'to magnify our voice."
The crowd cheered and applauded throughout the hearing, showing the strong emotion about restoring the Constitution.
This was a wonderful start to this process. But there are many hurdles to clear. If the Senate Government Operations and Elections committee votes in favor of the memorial, it will go the Rules Committee. This Committee can decide whether or not to send the memorial to the floor for a vote.
Similarly, the House Memorial needs support. A full court press has to be made on the House Democratic leadership to get a hearing scheduled before the cut-off of February 8th. Contact Representative Frank Chopp, House Speaker, and Representatives Grant, Kessler, Morris, and Tomiko.
The next big deadline in February 19th, which is the cutoff for bills to pass out of their house of origin.
Contact the legislature: 1.800.562.6000
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