With just three days remaining before Louisiana’s gubernatorial election, Republican candidate and House Representative Ralph Abraham is pulling out the symbolic Trump-friendly gestures to rally his base against Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards. On Tuesday, the congressman for northeastern Louisiana’s fifth district filed a resolution to expel Speaker Nancy Pelosi from the House, citing a clause in the Constitution that allows lawmakers to “punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.”
“Nancy Pelosi’s vicious crusade against our lawfully elected president is nothing more than a politically motivated witch hunt and it must be stopped,” Abraham’s statement read, borrowing its tone from that of the president. “She has disgraced the people’s House and weaponized the Speaker’s gavel for her party’s political gain. House Democrats spent nearly three years obsessed with election meddling only to dwarf any such efforts with their own deceitful plan to nullify the 2016 election and prevent President Trump from winning in 2020.”
It’s not the most viable political threat: Since 1789, only five representatives have been expelled from the House. Three were booted for supporting the Confederacy, while Pennsylvania Democrat Michael Myers was removed as part of the Abscam sting in 1980 (a.k.a. the rough plot of American Hustle) and Ohio Democrat James Traficant was removed in 2002 following his conviction for ten felony counts including bribery, racketeering, and tax evasion. Choosing to wield power and launch an impeachment inquiry into the president’s potentially criminal, definitely unethical behavior hardly puts Pelosi in the above camp. Plus, to expel a member of Congress requires a two-thirds vote; like an impeachment vote in the Republican-controlled Senate, the current Democratic House majority makes such a result impossible. (Of the Republican letters sent on Tuesday, the more concerning memo came from the White House, as the president informed Democrats that he would not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, calling the proceedings “illegal” and “unconstitutional.”)
For Democrats, the call for Pelosi’s expulsion could be viewed in a wholly positive light: For a colleague to demand the dismissal of the House leader means that they are finally using the majority in a maneuver that carries some consequence. Even if a potential impeachment proceeding is squashed against the hard backstop of Mitch McConnell’s Senate caucus, the inquiry is gaining popularity, and thus hurting Trump. For Ralph Abraham, the call for Pelosi’s expulsion appears more desperate: A poll from Monday found that Abraham’s 17 percent put him in third place in the governor’s race, behind Edwards, with 45 percent, and Republican businessman Eddie Rispone, with 22 percent. (Even if none of the candidates make the required 50 percent, it’s unlikely that Abraham will qualify for the two-candidate November runoff.)
Then again, the call for Pelosi’s expulsion could just be another example of Abraham’s political stunt-making in order to get attention: In July, he offered to pay the airfare for Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib if they would leave the United States, following the president’s call for the four congresswomen of color to “go back” to their own countries. Three of the four were born in the U.S.