Democrats must support or decline investigation

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some Minnesota Democrats who are most likely to feel any backlash over the White House scandal are struggling over whether to authorize an impeachment investigation of President Clinton.
Rep. David Minge, who represents southwest Minnesota, one of the state’s most conservative regions, is “in the midst of studying the situation,” while Rep. Bill Luther, who represents part of the Twin Cities suburbs, will wait and listen to the debate on Thursday before deciding how to vote, aides said.
The House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines Monday to authorize an open-ended investigation of allegations that Clinton committed perjury and obstructed justice to cover it his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Democrats, mindful of the political ramifications in the Nov. 3 election, were trying Tuesday to craft an alternative that would limit the length and scope of the inquiry.
Republicans are predicting they’ll get significant Democratic backing in the full House, primarily from conservatives.
To help him make up his mind, Minge planned to attend a seminar on impeachment issues and also was “carefully going through” a newspaper article in which former President Ford suggested that Congress reprimand Clinton in person rather than remove him from office, Minge spokesman Ross Bennett said Tuesday.
Minge didn’t pay much attention to the Judiciary Committee’s deliberations. “He’s trying to play catch-up of sorts, since he hasn’t had a lot of time to deal with this,” Bennett said.
Luther is “going to be listening to the debate real closely on Thursday when this thing comes up for a vote and talking to a number of people around here and back in Minnesota,” said spokesman Bob Decheine.
Minnesota’s two Republican House members, Gil Gutknecht and Jim Ramstad, both plan to support the committee’s planned investigation.
Ramstad issued a statement Tuesday saying the allegations against Clinton “clearly warrant a formal inquiry.” Congress should “consider this matter in an expeditious, fair and nonpartisan way,” he said.
Two Democrats, Bruce Vento and Jim Oberstar, said they would vote against the committee’s plan.
Vento said Congress should set a deadline for the inquiry and limit it to allegations surrounding the Lewinsky affair. “This could consume all of what Congress does,” he said.
Oberstar doesn’t believe Clinton has done anything that warrants impeachment and shares the concern about an unrestricted investigation, said spokeswoman Mary Kerr.
Rep. Martin Sabo, D-Minn., planned to announce his position on Wednesday.
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., did not return phone calls seeking his position on the investigation.