GOP's record shows risk of impeachment

Rep. James E. Clyburn (File)

Your Aug. 8 editorial entitled "A false 'impeachment' alarm" took issue with my comments regarding the possibility of President Obama's impeachment by House Republicans. The editorial echoed the new Republican talking point asserting that my comment is merely a "scare tactic" that Democrats are using for political purposes.

I don't think so. There is an element in this country, aptly represented in the Republican Conference, that is hell-bent on besmirching the character and denigrating the service of the 44th president of these United States. Your editorial asks, "Which Republicans are advocating impeachment? Not House Speaker John Boehner. Not Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Indeed, not anybody anywhere near a GOP leadership position in either chamber of Congress."

I beg to differ. There is an abundance of news reports to the contrary, and Mr. Boehner's record in such matters is unreliable at best or, at worse, disingenuous.

Regrettably, the real leaders and influences in the Congress are the Tea Party Republicans and Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. In May 2013, the Washington Times published an article with the headline, "Speaker John Boehner vows no government shutdown." But in October 2013, the government shut down for 16 days despite Speaker Boehner's vow to the contrary.

Also, just two days after the 2012 elections, Speaker Boehner said, "This [immigration] issue has been around far too long, and while I believe it's important for us to secure our borders and to enforce our laws, I think a comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I'm confident that the president, myself, others, can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all."

The Senate overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration bill over a year ago, and Speaker Boehner cannot muster the intestinal fortitude to allow a vote in the House.

Just two weeks ago Republican Whip Steve Scalise - the No. 3 leadership position in the Republican Conference - refused to rule out the possibility of impeachment. And many other House Republicans are openly suggesting impeachment.

We Democrats aren't engaging in scare tactics when we take presidential aspirants and Republican influences at their word, the same Republicans who have repeatedly forced Speaker Boehner to go along with their ideological demands time and time again.

It is particularly ironic that the actions for which President Obama is being sued and I maintain, may be impeached, have been supported by the speaker and other Republicans. All of this would be moot had House Republicans done their jobs when the Senate sent us that bipartisan bill.

I did not particularly like the Senate compromise, but along with many other Democrats would have voted for it, and we said so at the time. So the president has acted within his legal authority to limit the damage caused by Tea Party intransigence.

Democrats will not be lulled into complacency by Speaker Boehner's "head fakes" or deterred by the head-long machinations and misinformation of his supporters and apologists; and hopefully neither will the American people. The country would benefit greatly if Speaker Boehner would set partisanship aside for a little while and work with the whole House to pass legislation to invest in our crumbling infrastructure, increase access and affordability to higher education, and provide working men and women with a livable wage. Instead, he is suing the president, an action some are calling "impeachment light."

I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think so. I sincerely believe that if Republicans maintain control of the House after the November elections, Barack Obama will be impeached.

And if they gain control of the Senate, a trial will commence.

James E. Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the U.S. House, represents South Carolina's 6th District.