House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) proposal to vote on formalizing procedures for the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump has splintered members of her own caucus.
Earlier this week, Pelosi and the rest of the House leadership announced they would hold a vote on Thursday—Halloween—to establish procedures governing the ongoing impeachment probe. The Speaker, who for weeks had argued the House had no constitutional requirement to vote on authorizing an impeachment inquiry, relented after coming under fire for keeping the process in the shadows.
The decision, though, has engendered criticism from the 31 freshman and moderate Democrats representing districts that Trump won in 2016. Some, like freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ), have signaled they will not vote for the resolution on the grounds that impeachment would “not be good for Democrats or Republicans.”
Van Drew, who represents a district in southern New Jersey that, prior to 2016, had not voted Republican at the presidential level since before the 1980s, even suggested the vote could backfire on the House majority.
Van Drew told Politico on Wednesday, before adding the GOP was clamoring for such a vote:
I didn’t know that it was really necessary at this point. So if they very much want it, it would mean they want to help us a whole lot and really think it’s a good idea, or they think that it was going to put us in a tight spot.
The congressman’s office did not respond to questions for this story.
Although Van Drew was the first to announce his opposition, at least two more vulnerable Democrats— Reps. Colin Peterson (D-MN) and Anthony Brindisi (D-NY)—have expressed unease with the strategy House leadership is utilizing ahead of the vote.
Peteron’s office confirmed to Breitbart News that the congressman has not indicated how he will be voting on Thursday. The Minnesota Democrat, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, has suggested in recent weeks that he opposes “a partisan impeachment” process.
A spokeswoman for Peterson told Breitbart News, “As of now, Rep. Peterson has not indicated how he will vote on Thursday.”
She pointed to a statement he made in September that expressed doubt over impeachment: “Without significant bipartisan support, impeachment proceedings will be a lengthy and divisive action with no resolution.”
Brindisi, on the other hand, did not respond to requests for comment from Breitbart News. The congressman did, however, openly discuss his doubts about the timing of the resolution and the overall process in which it was crafted with Politico on Wednesday.
“It looks like things are moving quicker than a lot of people had anticipated,” the New York Democrat told the outlet. “For me, I’m in no rush here.”
Brindisi, who ousted former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) last year in an expensive race that was decided only after a recount, is already a top GOP target in 2020.
Apart from Peterson, the 30 other House Democrats representing districts that Trump carried in 2016 did not respond to requests from Breitbart News about how they would be voting on Thursday. Prior to this week, at least twenty had indicated they were fully supportive of the impeachment inquiry.
The fact that Pelosi and the Democrat leadership are having serious difficulties keeping their members in line does not bode well for the impeachment inquiry. Compounding problems is that Republicans have become more emboldened and unified against the impeachment inquiry and the forthcoming vote on Thursday.
Republicans, in particular, have been buoyed by polling showing only 36 percent of the American public believe the House should vote to impeach Trump. There is also increasing skepticism from even GOP moderates about the way Pelosi and the Democrat leadership are breaking House precedent in their push towards impeachment.
Most pointedly, the resolution being voted on Thursday gives extraordinary powers to the House Intelligence Committee chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who has been accused of abusing the powers of his committee to promote the impeachment agenda. The resolution also limits the ability of House Republicans to properly conduct their own impeachment reviews by curtailing minority subpoena power.
Such heavy-handed tactics by Pelosi and the Democrat leadership have removed any hopes the impeachment inquiry would be bipartisan. While it’s still not final, several GOP sources on Capitol Hill told Breitbart News they expect the minority to unite against the resolution on the floor Thursday. If that happens, the veneer of bipartisan respectability that Pelosi and her leadership team have attempted to stage around the impeachment inquiry would be shredded and the entire proceeding would be seen as a partisan affair.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) made such an argument during an appearance on Fox News Wednesday. The Republican leader claimed that Pelosi had proven the impeachment inquiry “process is a sham” by flip-flopping on whether to hold a vote on the procedures governing the probe.
McCarthy detailed during the interview how the move towards impeachment has divided and even radicalized some freshman Democrats from swing districts. When making his case, the House Republican leader cited Rep. Max Rose (D-NY)—a first-term Democrat who represents Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, New York — in October said that Trump should be given the chance to “prove his innocence.”
“I do not want to be here. This is the last thing I want to be doing,” Rose said at the time. “But no one is to blame but the president. The president says he is innocent, so all we are saying is ‘prove it.’ But that is not what they are doing. They are not cooperating, and we need to get to the bottom of it.”
Rose was one of the 30 House Democrats that declined to elaborate on their support for the impeachment procedure resolution when reached out to by Breitbart News.
McCarthy said Wednesday that Rose’s comments serve as a symbolic sign of how freshman Democrats face an ever-increasing pressure to back impeachment, despite the potential damage it might have for their House majority.
“It only takes 19 seats to win the majority, they have 31 Democrats sitting in seats that President Trump carried, and we’re going to carry those again,” the minority leader said.
To be sure, though, not every single freshman Democrat is taking the safe route, like Rose. Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), who initially resisted calls for Trump’s impeachment during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, reversed course in October, announcing he now supported the idea.
“We can’t overlook what has actually happened in terms of the president’s abuse of power,” Kim told constituents at a recent town hall in his New Jersey district.
Still, however, the fact that there are such divergent opinions on the impeachment inquiry within the House majority is cause for concern among leadership. That’s partially why, earlier in the week, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer — Pelosi’s number two — has begun downplaying the seriousness and gravity of the vote.
“We’re going to have to consider whether or not it’s ready to go on Thursday. I hope that’s the case,” the majority leader told reporters on Tuesday when asked about the planned vote.