On a historic day in America, political players on Capitol Hill are moving slowly and divisively after approving rules for impeachment debate. The body is now beginning six hours of partisan debate time before this historic impeachment vote.
Lawmakers just finished debating the rules that will be used to consider the impeachment charges against President Donald Trump after Democrats defeated two objections raised by Republicans. The House adopted debate rules, voting twice after Republicans raised a motion to reconsider. The vote on the rules for the debate passed 228 to 197, signaling that few lawmakers plan to defect parties, and now representatives will move to those six hours of debate about the articles, themselves. Finally, the House will vote on the articles of impeachment, in what is expected to rest almost entirely along party lines. The president is facing impeachment on two articles — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. If the vote passes, Trump will become the third American president charged with high crimes and misdemeanors.
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo. 1st District) was tapped by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to preside over the debate as speaker pro tempore.
Soon after House Chaplain Patrick Conroy opened with a prayer to “help them and help us put away any judgments that belong to you and live together in harmony,” lawmakers got straight to it, with no harmony in sight. Democrats defeated two motions raised almost immediately after the session was gaveled in. The House voted 226 to 188 to block the first motion, put forth by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz. 5th District), to adjourn before debating even began, and voted 226 to 191 to block the second motion, put forth by GOP minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif. 23rd District), condemning the inquiry as illegitimate.
The schedule circulated on Tuesday night could make the entire day hard to follow and may tire out casual observers. However, the proceedings could have been drawn out even further, if Republican objections were approved during last night’s session of the House Rules Committee. Republicans had raised objections that the debate is only six hours instead of 12 hours.
After the conclusion of today’s debate, lawmakers will finally vote. Many have already publicly pledged to vote along party lines.
Representatives largely used morning debate time, which began soon after 10 a.m. ET, for partisan diatribes. Republicans like Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz. 8th District) called the inquiry “rigged,” and Democrats like Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C. 6th District) referred to Thomas Paine’s pamphlets and said the president “seems to believe he is a king or above the law.” Many members were present at the start of the day when Republicans raised their objections but seemed to exit the chamber once debate began.
Pelosi remained in the Congressional chamber, sitting in the back row. Meanwhile, the president remains active on Twitter. He has tweeted and retweeted attacks against the Democrats, including a tweet in which the president wrote: “can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG!”