The White House says it will respond this week to House Judiciary Committee questions about the Monica Lewinsky affair, while aides to President Clinton say they are open to proposals, short of impeachment, that would punish the president.
Incoming House Speaker Bob Livingston, R-La., reiterated his hope that the scandal, which polls indicated worked against Republicans in the Nov. 3 election, could be put to rest by the end of the year.
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Because the issues have been on the table for the past year, debate could be limited to two or three hours, Livingston said Sunday. The House then could "vote on the issue up or down and be done with it."
"If we did not have the votes to sustain the charge, that would be it," he said.
House approval of impeachment would send the matter to the Senate. But it is thought there is almost no chance that chamber would come up with the two-thirds vote needed to remove Mr. Clinton from office.
According to some Republicans, at least 12 (perhaps as many as 40) GOP representatives are now leaning against impeachment, reports CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer.
The House Judiciary Committee, however, continues with the impeachment inquiry process, reports CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson. Kathleen Willey's lawyer, Daniel Decker, is scheduled to be questioned by the committee Monday. Nathan Landow, a prominent developer and democratic fund-raiser who is alleged to have pressured Willey to change her testimony in the Jones case, is set to be questioned Tuesday.
But Democratic committee members say there is no public support for the president's impeachment. "The impeachment process has failed. No one is really expecting that there will be a vote in favor," Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., a member of the Judiciary Committee, said on CNN's Late Edition.
And even GOP lawmakers recognize what little support there is for impeachment. "Right now, with the political landscape, I would say no," Rep. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., another committee member, said on ABC's This Week when asked whether impeachment would ever reach the Senate.
White House special presidential counsel Greg Craig said officials were ready to explore a middle ground of a resolution to censure Mr. Clinton for his affair with Lewinsky and his efforts to cover it up. The president "is open to any kind of reasonable and serious proposal that has some pospect of bringing this to a just and rapid conclusion," he said.
Both Craig and White House adviser Paul Begala stressed there are now no negotiations with Congress over censure, although Craig said he had "been taking the temperature of some individuals, finding out what their views are."
Begala, on the CBS program Face the Nation, said that on Tuesday, after Mr. Clinton returns from his trip to Asia, he will review responses to 81 questions submitted by the Judiciary Committee about the Lewinsky affair. He said the responses will be sent to Congress during the week. "We're going to file a timely and complete response. We intend to hit all the questions," Craig said.
The committee must study those answers, as well as schedule hearings for additional witnesses, before deciding when it will finally vote on referring articles of impeachment to the full House.
Livingston said that if there still is more evidence to be presented to the committee, there is "probably no hope that we can dispose of it this year."
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