WASHINGTON—Congressional Republicans have spent much of this year focused on President Barack Obama’s failure to enforce the law—on immigration, Obamacare, marriage, and a variety of scandals. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, even releases an annual report on the president’s “pattern of lawlessness.”
The GOP accusations have spawned questions of possible Republican impeachment plans, led by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, but this week conservative Republicans tried to tamp down impeachment talk, listing a variety of reasons why it would be unwise and unrealistic to launch an effort to remove the president from office.
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said “it’s real easy” for Palin to call for Obama’s impeachment when “she doesn’t have to be accountable to anybody but herself.” Labrador, a tea party favorite, said he doesn’t think most Republicans would support such action. “I don’t think we should be talking about impeachment.”
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, echoed Labrador’s comments, noting it’s “already July,” and even if the House did vote to impeach Obama, the Democrat-controlled Senate would never vote to remove him from office—which would take 67 votes. “As a practical matter, impeachment would be impossible,” Barton said Tuesday during a monthly panel discussion of conservative lawmakers. “It wouldn’t be a good use of time to try to impeach Obama.”
Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn., argued it would also be a bad move politically, noting Democrats have already started using Palin’s comments in fundraising pleas. “If you want to help Democrats keep the Senate, then start impeachment proceedings against Obama,” he said.
Problems at home and abroad have led to dismal poll numbers for Obama, and most political experts anticipate Republicans will gain seats in the House and take control of the Senate. Historically, presidents with approval numbers below 50 percent have experienced huge congressional losses in midterm elections.
Although impeachment appears to be off the table, House Speaker John Boehner—who is also on the record against impeachment—is moving forward with his lawsuit against the president. The House Rules Committee on Wednesday morning held its first hearing on the issue.
House Republicans charge the president with executive overreach when he unilaterally issued a one-year delay for employers to provide approved insurance for their employees under Obamacare. Constitutional experts have predicted Republicans will lose the suit, saying the House doesn’t have standing to bring it to court.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said the lawsuit is an effort to hold Obama accountable, but Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan,, said Republicans should focus on using the appropriations process to provide accountability.
The House has twice voted to impeach presidents—Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998—but both times the Senate declined to proceed.