That isn’t likely to stop House members from attempting to vote on an identical resolution to the one passed today in the Senate.
Rep. Dave Zuckerman, P-Burlington, will spend today and Tuesday collecting signatures from House members to introduce an identical resolution in the chamber.
“We will take the same language the Senate passed today, collect signatures today and Tuesday, and turn it in Tuesday afternoon, which gives people around the state time to call their representatives and ask them to sign it; we would then have it on the calendar for Wednesday and the speaker will either let it be voted on or have it sent to committee,” said Zuckerman. “In respect to the Senate action, many of us are quite pleased they took the vote, but it’s clear that it only happened because citizens got involved.”
Impeachment backers were thrilled with the move and now turn their attention to the House, where an impeachment resolution has been sitting in the House Judiciary Committee for weeks.
“I think what impressed the legislators [at Tuesday’s meeting] was the critical importance of stepping up to the plate at this moment in history,” said Barry Aleshenick of Guilford, who attended Tuesday’s meeting. “We need the House to follow suit, because the entire nation has its hopes in a state like Vermont to lead the nation in this incredible historical moment and to have the moral imperative to get us out of what we’ve been in. For the Senate to take the first step this morning is just wonderful.”
All eyes are now on the House, where House Speaker Gaye Symington has not been willing to have the resolution taken up because it would distract lawmakers from more important work on education funding, health care, among other issues.
Currently, a resolution with 20 co-sponsors remains in the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. William Lippert, D-Hinesburg, and has yet to receive a hearing despite more than 100 calls in a favor.
At Tuesday’s meeting with impeachment backers, Symington reiterated her steadfast belief that a resolution supporting impeachment was not the solution when asked what could change her mind. “I don’t disagree with your goals, but I don’t believe that this is the way to achieve them,” she said.
Rop Roper, chairman of the Vermont Republican Party, was pleased that the GOP contingent in the Senate stood together, but believes the move will only distract legislators from more pressing matters.
“I’m very proud to say that all of our Republican senators held together and did not support the resolution,” said Roper. “Peter Shumlin has caved into a small, vocal minority of the population that is way out of the mainstream. All this is going to do is divide and distract our legislators when they need to be finishing up some very important business at the State House.”
The nation’s eyes have been turning to Vermont since Town Meeting Day when 38 towns passed resolutions calling for Congress to introduce articles of impeachment against Bush and Cheney. Since then, supporters have been urging state lawmakers to pass a similar measure. Recently, the popular comic strip Doonesbury profiled Vermont’s impeachment efforts during a six-day run.
Shumlin has been also facing increased pressure from his county constituents, many of whom have sparked the impeachment movement in Vermont.
At the meeting with impeachment supporters, Shumlin said, “I would welcome anyone to introduce the resolution and I will vote for it.”
That is a different position than Shumlin took earlier this year in public statements, including in statements at a monthly meeting of the state committee of the Vermont Democratic Party. He said earlier that if the resolution made it to the Senate it would receive immediate hearings; however, all of those statements were made before Legislative Counsel said that the resolution did not have to start in the House. In recent weeks, Shumlin has said that there is not enough time remaining in the legislative session to take up the resolution.
“He had to do something because he was facing a lot of pressure in his county,” said Rep. Darryl Pillsbury, I-Brattleboro, and a cosponsor of an impeachment resolution in the House. “I was very surprised by the vote as it came up pretty quickly, and I didn’t even know about it. I’m very happy though.”
Pillsbury and Zuckerman said if the new resolution is sent to the committee again, it is likely that they would ask the House to pull it out and put it to a floor vote.
Impeachment backers hope the Senate resolution, coupled with a measure from the House, would send a message to the nation.
“We’re not standing here as Vermonters and impeaching the president, be we are sending a message and denouncing the actions of this administration,” said Aleshenick. “It’s a matter of getting the ball rolling and that’s what I said on Tuesday and then see where it goes.”
What: Impeachment rally
When: Saturday, April 21
Where: Burlington City Hall
Details: Supporters of the impeachment resolution will gather to thank senators for their vote today, and to urge people to call House members to support a similar resolution, and to call on U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-VT, to introduce a bill in Congress that would start impeachment proceedings.