After another long day restating the two parties’ positions, the House Rules Committee set up the terms for Wednesday’s vote in the full House to make Donald Trump the third U.S. president to be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors. Rules Chairman Jim McGovern chaired the long and fractious event with aplomb.
According to the “rule” governing the House floor proceedings, there will be one hour of debate on the rule itself, then six hours of debate — divided equally between the two parties — on the two articles of impeachment (one regarding abuse of power, the other on obstruction of Congress), followed by separate votes on each. No amendments will be in order. The debating time will be managed by the ranking members of the Judiciary Committee, Democrat Jerrold Nadler and Republican Doug Collins. The House is scheduled to gavel in at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday and conclude its business no later than 7:30 p.m., though Republicans may try all sort of parliamentary stunts to slow things down and show their loyalty to POTUS, as they did in the Intelligence, Judiciary, and Rules Committee hearings and mark-ups.
All the votes on the floor are expected to follow party lines with very few exceptions. Two Democrats — the perpetual heretic Collin Peterson of Minnesota, and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who has already indicated he will switch parties — have said they’ll vote against them. One Democrat, Jared Golden of Maine (whose district was carried by Trump in 2016), has said he’ll vote to impeach Trump for abuse of power but not for obstruction of Congress. Ron Kind of Wisconsin is the sole undecided vote. At this point, no Republicans are expected to vote for impeachment (though ex-Republican independent Justin Amash of Michigan certainly will).
The Rules Committee also authorized Speaker Nancy Pelosi to appoint impeachment mangers, who will be sent to the Senate to present and defend the articles when the impeachment trial begins, presumably in January.
The president himself commemorated this impending development by firing off a long, weird rant of a letter to Pelosi denying the House’s right to impeach him and insulting and threatening all his tormenters. He did the House the favor of setting a bar for rhetoric so low and inappropriate that tomorrow’s debate will seem dignified.