WASHINGTON — With Virginia’s delegation splitting along party lines, the U.S. House on Thursday voted to formalize its impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
Lawmakers adopted a resolution that lays out procedures for the inquiry that is already taking place in the House. That investigation is centered on whether the president abused his power by attempting to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political opponent.
The measure passed largely along partisan lines by a vote of 232-196, with no Republicans backing the resolution. One independent, Justin Amash of Michigan, voted in favor of the resolution and two Democrats voted against it.
Democrats hailed the resolution as a roadmap that will provide for a fair and transparent process, while Republicans supportive of the president assailed the effort as a political attack.
“What is at stake in all of this is nothing less than our democracy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said ahead of the vote. “Sadly, this is not any cause for any glee or comfort. This is something that is very solemn.”
House Democratic leadership had previously announced a formal inquiry, but held a floor vote in part to combat complaints from Republicans that the full chamber hadn’t been allowed to vote. Still, Thursday’s vote is unlikely to reduce the partisan fighting over the process.
Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday morning, “The Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market. The Do Nothing Democrats don’t care!” He added later, “The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!”
Trump’s critics in the House insist that the president’s behavior and their constitutional obligations have driven them to pursue their investigation.
“Every member of Congress swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and today’s vote was part of adhering to that solemn obligation,” said U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, a Democrat who represents the 3rd District in southeast Virginia. “Three House committees have already collected extensive evidence, and now the American people will get to hear what that evidence proves.”
U.S. Rep. Don McEachin, a Democrat from Richmond, who did not vote because he is recovering from surgery, said “our constituents deserve to hear the many ways the president has betrayed our country and put our national security at risk for his own gain. With this vote, we are ensuring transparency, effective public hearings and due process protections for the president or his counsel.”
The rest of Virginia’s seven Democratic representatives also backed the resolution. The state’s four Republicans voted against it.
The House just passed a resolution to establish procedures for open hearings as part of the impeachment investigation into the misconduct of President Trump. You can read the text of that resolution here: https://t.co/OsbTNHsL91
I voted YES. pic.twitter.com/oNwjApIbOK
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) October 31, 2019
The President has abused his power and compromised our national security for his personal political gain.
With today's vote, I am fulfilling my oath to uphold and defend our Constitution.https://t.co/sVVkZGdJjn
— Rep. Jennifer Wexton (@RepWexton) October 31, 2019
Earlier this week, when asked whether the impeachment resolution would be a “partisan vote,” U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, who represents the 11th District in Northern Virginia, said “I’d love to believe my colleagues and friends on other side of the aisle are going to put country ahead of party. So far, they have not done that and I don’t have any hopes that they’re going to change their behavior now. I think that’s a sad thing for the country. … That can’t deter us from protecting the Constitution, which all of us took an oath to defend and protect.”
Republican lawmakers continued to decry the process, drawing criticisms from Democrats that they’re making procedural arguments to avoid discussing the president’s behavior.
U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, a Republican who represents Virginia’s southwestern 9th District, called the resolution “window dressing” that would continue what he said is a flawed process.
— Morgan Griffith (@RepMGriffith) October 31, 2019
“Due process at the pleasure of the majority is not due process at all.“ I agree with @RepMGriffith and @MarkWarner. Transparency and due process are the keys to fairness— The impeachment inquiry resolution does not meet that threshold. https://t.co/LbPgKyu2EN
— Congressman Denver Riggleman (@RepRiggleman) October 30, 2019
“No matter what is said by the other side today, this is a dark day and a cloud has fallen on this House,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.
“The resolution before us today is not about transparency, it’s about control. It’s not about fairness, it’s about winning,” he said.
Some moderate Democrats who voted for the inquiry stressed that their support for the investigation does not indicate how they may ultimately vote on articles of impeachment.
House lawmakers could vote as soon as this year on articles of impeachment against the president. If approved, the articles would be the subject of a trial in the Senate, where the GOP-led chamber is unlikely to vote to convict the president.
Editor Robert Zullo contributed.