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Republicans Wrestle Over Impeachment, House’s Israel Says

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July 31 (Bloomberg) -- Democrats will benefit in the November elections from House Republicans “obsessed with lawsuits and impeachment” against President Barack Obama, the Democratic lawmaker leading his party’s effort predicted.

“I believe the Republicans are actually in a wrestling match with themselves” on impeachment and are “completely divided on this issue,” Representative Steve Israel of New York, who leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in an interview on “Political Capital with Al Hunt” airing on Bloomberg Television this weekend.

“I do not believe it’s idle chatter for” Republicans like former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin or Representative Steve King of Iowa, he said. “I don’t believe that John Boehner thinks that impeachment is a good idea, but we know he didn’t believe the shutdown was a good idea and he still had no control.”

The Republican-led House yesterday adopted a resolution that would authorize Boehner, the House speaker, to take legal action against Obama or other federal officials for failing to implement any provision of the Affordable Care Act, the president’s health-care law enacted in 2010. Republicans have accused Obama of selectively enforcing the laws.

With Republicans focused on opposing Obama, “you bet that our base, our supporters, are going to be energized and we’re going to fight those priorities in order to focus on priorities that matter to the American people,” Israel said.

Boehner, an Ohio Republican, says Democrats are fanning unrealistic talk about impeachment to raise money before the Nov. 4 elections in which Israel’s party hopes to gain seats.

House Struggle

“We have no plans to impeach the president,” Boehner said on July 29. “We have no future plans. Listen, it’s all a scam, started by Democrats at the White House.”

Democrats need a net gain of 17 seats to win a majority in the House, where Republicans control 234 of the 435 seats. The White House’s party usually loses ground in Congress in midterm elections, when the sitting president’s opponents usually are more motivated than his supporters to vote.

House Republicans have set a goal of winning 245 seats in November. Israel declined to say if Democrats would make a net seat gain.

“Not a single race has fully engaged,” he said. “We still have primaries.”

The congressman said this week he would travel to Israel this weekend as U.S. officials including Secretary of State John Kerry try to secure a cease-fire between the Israeli military and the Islamist Hamas movement in Gaza.

Mideast Turmoil

Israel has a right to defend itself, the congressman said. While the Obama administration has been “very, very strong” on military and intelligence issues in the region, U.S. officials shouldn’t talk about a “need for balance,” he said.

“I do get concerned with statements from Secretary Kerry, as I was concerned with statements in the Bush administration, about the need to -- for Israel to show sensitivity or demonstrate greater attempts, with respects to civilians in Gaza -- when Israel in fact goes further than most any other country I know to do that,” the congressman said.

“I believe that the United States has a fundamental obligation, every day, to support Israel’s right to defend itself,” the congressman said. “The reason for this conflagration is because one side decided to fire rockets against another side. The reason for many of the civilian deaths in Gaza is because one side hides its military commanders underground and forces civilians above ground.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at ggiroux@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net Mark Silva, Michael Shepard

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