Why House Conservatives Don’t Support Obama Impeachment

One of Labrador's arguments against an Obama impeachment push: "President Joe Biden." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
One of Labrador's arguments against an Obama impeachment push: "President Joe Biden." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted July 15, 2014 at 3:07pm

A curious line of reasoning emerged Tuesday as to why conservatives in Congress aren’t chomping at the bit to impeach a president that they believe has broken the law: There isn’t enough time.  

At a monthly panel discussion with conservative lawmakers, members were asked if they would support impeaching President Barack Obama for selective enforcement of some laws and dramatic reinterpretations of others.  

While a number of the lawmakers seemed to think impeachment was warranted, no one was offering to write up the proceedings.  

“The president deserves to be impeached,” said Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas. “Plain and simple.”  

But, as Weber pointed out, it isn’t so simple.  

“We’ve got so much on our plate that it’s not practical,” he said, noting that such an endeavor wouldn’t pass the Senate even though “he definitely deserves it.” Fellow Texan Joe L. Barton said, as a member who was present during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings, he sees many sides to the question.  

“I think it’s debatable,” Barton said. “I certainly think the president has gone out of his way to not enforce some of the laws that the Congress thinks he should be enforcing. Impeachment is for high crimes and misdemeanors. The Constitution doesn’t really define what that is.”  

Barton noted that, having gone through this process before, “as a practical matter, it wouldn’t be possible, even if we made the decision today to do it because of the complexity of the procedure.”  

Barton said even if Speaker John A. Boehner kept the House in session through August and “did all sorts of extraordinary things with the schedule,” he didn’t think it could be done.  

“At this point in time,” Barton added, “I don’t think it would be a good use of the Congress’s remaining time, in this Congress, to start the impeachment proceedings.”  

John J. Duncan Jr. of Tennessee noted that, ” good or bad, like it or not,” there was a political element in bringing forward impeachment proceedings.  

“Every political analyst — almost — that’s really looked at this, I think, has said that nothing would fire up the base of the Democrats more than an impeachment action,” Duncan said. “And also that, even perhaps more important, that it would turn off some of the independents who are leaning our way. And so if you want to help the Democrats keep control of the Senate, this would be one way to do it.”  

Still, not every member thought impeachment was appropriate in the first place.  

Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said the question was, “How do you hold the president accountable?”  

“The speaker of the House is moving forward with doing that,” Jordan said, referring to Boehner’s lawsuit against the president.  

Raul R. Labrador was even more blunt.  

“I don’t think it’s gotten to the level of impeachable offenses yet,” Labrador said.  

The Idaho Republican noted that Sarah Palin, who has made a recent push on impeaching the president, didn’t have the “burden of leadership right now.”  

“And it’s really easy for her to go on Fox News and make statements that she doesn’t have to be accountable to anybody but herself,” Labrador said.  

He also said he didn’t think the American people, “as a whole, in general,” believe the president should be impeached, and he said the reality is that impeachment is a political process.