BOSTON (Reuters) - Vermont’s state senate passed a largely symbolic resolution on Friday calling on the U.S. Congress to impeach President George W. Bush over his handling of the unpopular Iraq war.
Reflecting growing grass-roots anger over the war, the 16 to 9 vote urges Vermont’s representatives in Washington to introduce a resolution in Congress requiring the House Judiciary Committee to start impeachment proceedings against Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Vermont’s congressional delegation has shown no serious interest in the idea, and the new Democratic-controlled Congress has also steered clear of the subject.
But activists in the proudly independent state known for autumn foliage, maple syrup and dairy farms hope to persuade Vermont’s House of Representatives to adopt a similar resolution to keep up pressure on their congressional leaders.
If Vermont’s House follows, rules written by former President Thomas Jefferson to govern the U.S. House could set impeachment proceedings in motion. According to section 603 of Jefferson’s Manual, a state legislature can introduce impeachment charges to Congress.
“If the House in Vermont also adopts the resolution, Congress would at least have to look at it,” said Liza Earl, an organizer of Vermont’s impeachment protest movement.
But chances of Vermont’s House passing a similar measure look slim, and most political analysts doubt Vermont’s impeachment activism will gain national traction.
“You have to take everything that comes out of here with a grain of salt,” said Matt Dickinson, a political science professor at Middlebury College in Vermont.
“To the degree that there’s dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq and the president’s handling of it, that’s one thing. But to say that translates into support for impeachment proceedings, that’s another.”
Still, many Vermonters fume with anger over Bush.
Forty Vermont towns passed resolutions at annual meetings this year calling for impeachment, putting pressure on lawmakers in a state that last year elected the U.S. Senate’s first Democratic Socialist, Bernie Sanders.
Bush and Cheney have acted “in ways that raise serious questions of constitutionality, statutory legality, and abuse of public trust,” the resolution said.
Wisconsin Sen. Russell Feingold’s call last year to censure Bush -- a step short of an impeachment -- found scant support on Capitol Hill, even among fellow Democrats.