Speaking last week to the Mifflin County Tea Party, Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) seethed with anger about budget negotiations between the House and the Senate. His preferred solution to the impasse: impeach the Democratic Senate Majority Leader:
MARINO: I’ve made a suggestion that we should at least start talking about impeachment. I had my office staff do it. But we cannot find anything that permits the House to bring impeachment proceedings against Harry Reid. There’s nothing in the legislation we can find at this point to force him to vote or come up with a budget or anything like that. His membership in the Senate can call for a vote of “no confidence,” but we can’t even get a Republican senator to do that.
The Constitution permits senators to be expelled by a 2/3s vote of the Senate, but this is likely the sole remedy against a member of Congress their fellow lawmakers wish to remove. In 1796, Sen. William Blount joined a conspiracy to assist Great Britain in seizing Spanish territory in Louisiana and Florida, and was eventually impeached for his role in this conspiracy. Although the Senate expelled him, a majority of Blount’s former colleagues voted that they lacked jurisdiction to hear his impeachment. This precedent is often cited as establishing that members of Congress are not subject to impeachment, only expulsion.
This isn’t the first time Marino has floated impeachment as the cudgel for his preferred policies. During his initial congressional campaign in 2010, Marino said he would be willing to use “impeachment if necessary” against President Obama in order to increase border security.