Clinton on House Vote: Phew!

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WASHINGTON: So far, the third presidential impeachment process in history is turning out the way the White House hoped it would. After Henry Hyde's resolution to open impeachment hearings carried the House by a 258-176 vote, the Republican demurely called it "a victory for the process." But it was Bill Clinton who was breathing a little easier after the afternoon vote; only 31 Democrats crossed the aisle. "The White House had put out the word that anything under 50 would be a victory, and of course that bar was comfortably high," says TIME senior writer Eric Pooley. "So they're satisfied."

Special Report The real vote, says Pooley, is the vote on the articles of impeachment, which won't happen until this Congress is back from the midterm elections -- or perhaps even sometime next year. "The idea was to let Democrats vote whichever way they needed to to please their voters at home," says Pooley. "That way they'll be around to help out when it counts." The low defection rate, then, is a relief for Clinton on two counts: Not only is the majority of Democrats still behind him, but their voters are too.