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Harkin, Wellstone vow to keep pushing for open deliberations

January 25, 1999
Web posted at: 6:49 p.m. EDT (1849 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, January 25) -- Despite a first-round defeat, two senators said Monday they intend to press for open Senate deliberations at every possible opportunity in President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial.

"This is not a private club," Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa said after the Senate voted to keep its deliberations secret. "That Senate floor belongs to the American people."

Harkin and Sen. Paul Wellstone had sought a two-thirds vote by the Senate to change its rules and conduct its impeachment deliberations in public. But their effort fell far short, with only 43 senators voting in favor of open deliberations and 57 senators opposed.

Harkin, obviously disappointed, shook his head as he said the vote was "an affront to every American taxpayer." He predicted the vote would "live in infamy."

Wellstone noted that there will not even be a transcript of the Senate's deliberations. "The only thing people will know is how we voted," Wellstone said. "This is a huge mistake."

The two senators vowed to push for opening the deliberations at each step along the way. Harkin noted, too, that Senate rules bar members from talking about what goes on in secret sessions and if members do, others could seek their expulsion from the Senate.

Opponents of open deliberations have said the Senate may be able to get more done in private by avoiding members posturing for the cameras.


Investigating the President

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Monday, January 25, 1999

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