By Molly K. Hooper - 08/07/14 06:00 AM EDT
Congressional Democrats have talked about the impeachment of President Obama 20 times more than Republicans have on the House and Senate floors.
Since the start of the 113th Congress last year, Democrats have used the word “impeach” or “impeachment” regarding Obama 86 times, according to a review of the Congressional Record by The Hill.
Most of the talk has come from House Democrats, with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas) alone using the words 18 times in two separate speeches late last month.
In the Senate, where the GOP hopes to retake a majority this fall, not a single Republican has mentioned impeachment on the floor over the last couple of years.
The figures highlight how impeachment has been a hot topic for Democrats, and one most Republicans want to avoid.
The campaign arm for House Democrats raised $2.1 million in online donations over a single July weekend while talking up the possibility that Republicans would impeach Obama.
Most Republicans have sought to avoid the topic, which they see as a lose-lose situation.
Talking up impeachment, the theory goes, could increase turnout among Democrats at the polls and sabotage GOP efforts to take back the Senate. But pooh-poohing the idea of impeachment looks bad to the GOP base.
Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who Republicans hope will defeat Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) this fall, dodged questions Tuesday night about impeachment on Fox News.
Asked by host Neil Cavuto if Obama would warrant impeachment by issuing executive orders giving legal status to undocumented workers, Cotton wouldn’t even mention the word.
“Neil, I don't want to engage in speculation about hypothetical actions the president may or may not take,” Cotton said.
Reading Recomendations from The Hill:
Not every Republican is so shy about the subject.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican who could run for president in 2016, told a conservative radio show host on Monday that Obama “deserved impeachment.”
“There's no doubt” Obama “has done plenty of things worthy of impeachment,” Huckabee said.
“From a governmental standpoint you're not going to see it accomplished with this Senate,” Huckabee said, noting Republicans have a minority in the Senate.
Other Republicans who have publicly talked about impeaching the president include Reps. Steve King (Iowa), Walter Jones (N.C.), Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Steve Stockman (Texas) and Louie Gohmert (Texas).
Many Republicans, however, have sought to downplay the issue. Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) sought to bottle up grassroots frustration with Obama’s use of executive power by authorizing a lawsuit against the president. The Speaker last week called impeachment a Democratic “scam.”
Democrats have certainly been more willing to breach the topic in Washington.
Nineteen House Democrats have raised the issue in comments on the House floor. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), meanwhile, has mentioned it on the Senate floor.
In his comments last week, Reid sought to tie Republicans to the idea of impeachment, even though GOP leaders have dismissed the idea.
“It is good we are talking about this, rather than an impeachment of the president or suing the president,” Reid said as he opened debate last week on a bipartisan Veterans Affairs measure. “Look in the papers today. The American people are totally opposed. We shouldn't be off on these tracks of impeachment, suing the president.”
The top three House Democratic leaders — Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.) also have all broached the topic.
Pelosi recently dared Boehner to take impeachment completely off the table.
Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus have talked up impeachment on the floor, including Jackson Lee, Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson (six times), New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (nine times), CBC Chairwoman and Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge (once), California Rep. Barbara Lee (twice), New Jersey Rep. Donald Payne (once), North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield (twice) and Maryland Rep. Donna Edwards (once).
The other Democrats who have raised the issue are Reps. Kurt Schrader (Ore.), Bill Pascrell (N.J.), Steven Horsford (Nev.), Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.), Louise Slaughter (N.Y.), Jackie Speier (Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
Most of the talk came after July 24, when House Republicans moved a resolution to sue Obama for executive overreach.
Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley, who has criticized Obama’s executive actions, compared the impeachment talk to sightings of “Bigfoot.”
“This is the constitutional equivalent of a Bigfoot sighting: nobody is seriously suggesting that impeachment is being pursued by the Republicans,” said Turley, a professor at George Washington University.
Vivian Hughbanks and Tomas Navia contributed.