To no one’s surprise, the House voted (232-196) today to formally authorize an impeachment inquiry and establish procedures for how various committees will operate. In a small victory for the White House, every Republican voting opposed the resolution (ex-Republican independent Justin Amash voted aye, as expected). Two Democrats (career heretic Collin Peterson of Minnesota and another vulnerable incumbent, Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey) defected from their own caucus, a disappointment to Team Trump, which had suggested four or five Democrats might flip. The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel put the crossover votes in context:
And then there’s this historical comparison:
So spinning aside, this was a party-line vote that reflects the polarization of the Trump era quite well, and should probably give pause to those who believe Senate Republicans will eventually find it in their interest to remove Trump from office. And while this vote is quite different in substance from one on actual articles of impeachment, the public (according to polls) has not made much of a distinction between beginning impeachment proceedings, impeaching Trump, or removing him from office, so with minor variations, what you see now is probably what you’ll get when the inquiry is completed.
The vote did create a bit of a messaging problem for House Republicans, who had made the absence of this type of authorization their leading talking point in attacking the impeachment inquiry (which this resolution described as “existing” and “ongoing”). Here’s the new party line:
You’d think a party leader in the U.S. House of Representatives would feel obligated to observe that his colleagues are themselves elected officials (hence the “Representative” in their title) with an independent responsibility to THE PEOPLE, but I guess McCarthy has to go with a weak argument if he has no other at hand. Certainly his lord and master in the White House has no compunction about ignoring facts and logic in fighting for his interests. We should all get used to hearing distinctively Trumpian rhetoric in the many voices of his partisan allies in Congress.