House Democrats on Wednesday were moving ahead with their plan for a vote on a resolution laying out the process and procedures for open hearings for the impeachment inquiry, expressing confidence that they have the votes to pass the measure on Thursday without any Republican support.
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While House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had initially refused to commit to a Thursday vote, a senior Democratic leadership aide confirms that the resolution will be on the House floor for both debate and a vote on Thursday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for on Monday.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., gestures while speakings during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Oct. 17, 2019.
(MORE: Democrats post text of impeachment resolution, showdown vote as soon as Thursday)
House Majority Whip James Clyburn has already whipped the resolution with rank-and-file-Democrats, though an aide declined to disclose the results of the vote count.
“This resolution provides a clear path forward as the House prepares to begin the public-facing phase of its impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Donald Trump and requires serious consideration,” a senior Democratic leadership aide noted. “Sending a Whip Question is a part our process to ensure we have an accurate vote count; we’re confident that we’ll have the votes to pass the resolution.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the House Rules Committee will hold a hearing to set the parameters of debate, as well as make any potential tweaks to the resolution. Republicans and Democrats will debate the resolution there, but any changes would require majority consent. Democrats hold a 9-4 edge over Republicans in the committee, virtually assuring the Rules Democrats will prevail in any contested dispute over the resolution.
(MORE: What to watch for next in the rapidly unfolding impeachment inquiry)
House Republican aides criticized Democrats for bifurcating the impeachment process between the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, arguing that Democrats have “no justification” for denying Trump and his counsel the same due process rights and ability to take part in hearings across panels.
They also argued that Democrats aren’t making the process transparent by denying Trump and his counsel access to investigative materials that the House Intelligence Committee gathers but does not report to the Judiciary Committee.
While the terms set forward for the Judiciary Committee are “certainly closer” to past precedent, one aide said, it’s a “matter of how Democrats will want to carry it out.”
A full House vote on the resolution is expected to conclude by 3 p.m. on Thursday, the latest timing House Democratic leaders have signaled activity on the floor schedule.
The vote is not expected to win unanimity in the 234-member Democratic Caucus, though Democrats appear confident they’ll get a simple majority – 217 votes – to clear the resolution.
Freshman Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who represents a congressional district carried by President Trump in 2016, said he plans to vote against the measure.
“I just believe it’s the right thing to do. I think we’ve spent all this time and all this money, all this energy, all this effort, and all this toxicity exists here, because of what’s going on. I want to get bills done,” Van Drew, D-N.J., said. “I’ve seen things that are distasteful and make you feel uncomfortable, and I don’t like they way they termed, I don’t see them as impeachable.”
The National Republican Campaign Committee has sent more than a dozen emails targeting vulnerable Democrats, including Van Drew, whose votes on impeachment could imperil their reelection prospects next year.
The House of Representatives is not in session next week, so any public hearings at the House Intelligence Committee are not expected to commence until the week of Nov. 11 at the earliest.