Quotes From The House Debate

Following are excerpts from speeches made by House members Thursday during the debate over whether to begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Clinton:
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"Today we will vote on a historic resolution to begin an inquiry into whether the president has committed impeachable offenses. All of us are pulled in many directions by our political parties, by philosophy, and friendships. We're pulled by many competing forces. But mostly, we're moved by our consciences."

Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill.

"The issue before us when we consider this matter is not Monica Lewinsky. The issue is not sex. The issue is not whether the president committed adultery or betrayed his wife...The issue is, did the president of the United States commit a felony crime of obstructing justice or felony crime of witness tampering? If he did, are these high crimes and misdemeanors that deserve impeachment?"

Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Fla.

"...I have come to the conclusion that given the evidence before us, while the president deserves significant punishment, there is no basis for impeachment of the president. It is time to move on and solve the problems facing the American people, like health care, education, and protecting seniors' retirement."

Rep. Charles Schumer, D-NY

Rep. Maxine Waters
"It's time to move on! Reprimand the president, condemn him, but let's move on! These grossly unfair procedures will only tear this Congress and this nation apart. I ask my colleagues to vote down this open-ended and unfair resolution; it does not deserve the support of this House."

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.

"The presidency is a place of moral leadership. I want my strong criticism of President Clinton placed in context. I voted for President Clinton in 1992 and 1996...The president's misconduct made immaterial my past support...We cannot define the president's character, but we must define the nation's. I urge an affirmative vote on the resolution."

Rep. Paul McHale, D-Penn.

"People say this is not Watergate. That's true. Every case is different. But the rule of law and our obligation to it does not change...I ask my colleagues to support the resolution."

Rep. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark.

"Many of the president's actions were wrong, in fact they were indefensible. But our role today is not to attack him. Our role today is to make ure that this process is defensible, and this is not a defensible process. This chamber spent a little more than a day debating renaming an airport and we are spending two hours on deciding the future of this presidency. That is unfairÂ… There should be an inquiry. We should move on. But it has to be fair, and what we're seeing today is not fair."

Rep. Thomas Barrett, D-Wisc.

Rep. Robert Wexler

"Genocide racks Kosovo. Children cram into packed classrooms. And we're talking about Monica Lewinsky! Families can't pay their medical bills and we're talking about Monica Lewinsky! God help this nation if we trivialize the Constitution of the United States and reject the conviction of our founding fathers that impeachment is about no less than the subversion of the government! The president betrayed his wife! He did not betray the country!"

Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla.