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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

Censure motion not likely until after trial

February 8, 1999
Web posted at: 1:13 p.m. EDT (1313 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, February 8) -- Any movement toward a censure of President Bill Clinton would likely come after the Senate returns from the President's Day recess, according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), who is drafting such a resolution.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein  

Feinstein said Monday her plan would be to attach the motion she is proposing to a bill while the Senate is in legislative session after Clinton's trial ends.

Speaking to reporters after a Democratic caucus, Feinstein said it is not be possible to bring the censure motion to the floor of the Senate while it is sitting as a jury in the trial of the president. The Senate must be in legislative session for a member to propose legislation.

A draft of the censure resolution, proposed by Sens. Feinstein and Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-New York), cites Clinton for "shameless, reckless and indefensible behavior" that demeaned the office of the president and "creates disrespect for the laws of the land."

Feinstein says she will not bring the censure motion up this week, even if the trial ends as scheduled, because one member, Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas), has said he will object to the motion being presented at that time.

Gramm has proved the most vocal opponent of censure and has promised to fight the motion. "Impeachment is about the Constitution. Censure is about getting political cover," Gramm said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moyniham  

"People want to be on both sides of the issue. They want to say the president's not guilty, they want to say the president's guilty. The problem is, this 'covering-your-fanny' approach has constitutional cost," he said.

Despite Gramm's opposition, Senate Minority Leader Senate Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) said there were still efforts to try to bring up a censure measure this week. "And so we'll be looking for ways in which to do that by the end of the week," Daschle said.

But he added that if such a resolution is not allowed this week, he would bring it up after Congress returns from its recess.

"Our expectation is we would," Daschle said. "I don't know that Phil Gramm has the 40 votes to sustain his position, but if he does, we will just look for appropriate vehicles when we come back and keep amending those vehicles so long as it takes to amend the censure."

Many Senate Democrats have been pressing for a censure resolution they hope can pass this week and help bring closure to the impeachment case against Clinton.

Sen. John Breaux  

"I think there will be a majority of the Senate that will support a censure resolution. That obviously means it will be bipartisan. I think a very significant number of Republicans who would want a strong censure resolution, so that a vote not to convict on the articles cannot be interpreted as a statement that the president is innocent," Sen. John Breaux (D-Louisiana) said Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation".

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said he believes that censure stands a chance with Republicans.

"The question is, do you really want to leave this whole matter at the end of this week with an acquittal of the president, when in my view, he committed perjury and obstructed justice? It does leave you with sort of an empty feeling, and that's why, depending upon the words, it may have some appeal on the Republican side," McConnell said on "Face The Nation."

CNN's Caroline Nolan contributed to this report.

Investigating the President


Monday, February 8, 1999

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