The U.S. House on Thursday voted to formalize its impeachment inquiry against President Trump.
Lawmakers adopted a resolution that lays out procedures for the inquiry that is already taking place in the House. That investigation is centered on whether the president abused his power by attempting to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political opponent.
The measure passed largely along partisan lines by a vote of 232-196, with no Republicans backing the resolution. One independent who had been a Republican, Justin Amash of Michigan, voted in favor of the resolution and two Democrats voted against it.
Democrats hailed the resolution as a roadmap that will provide for a fair and transparent process, while Republicans supportive of the president assailed the effort as a political attack.
“What is at stake in all of this is nothing less than our democracy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said ahead of the vote. “Sadly, this is not any cause for any glee or comfort. This is something that is very solemn.”
House Democratic leadership had previously announced a formal inquiry, but held a floor vote in part to combat complaints from Republicans that the full chamber hadn’t been allowed to vote. Still, Thursday’s vote is unlikely to reduce the partisan fighting over the process.
Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday morning, “The Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market. The Do Nothing Democrats don’t care!” He added later, “The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!”
Trump’s critics in the House insist that the president’s behavior and their constitutional obligations have driven them to pursue their investigation.
“The House impeachment inquiry has discovered a substantial body of evidence that the president of the United States has violated the Constitution by placing his political interests above the interests of the country, thereby putting both our democracy and the nation’s security in jeopardy,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) during the floor debate. “In light of this evidence, the House of Representatives must fully investigate.”
Raskin said the impeachment inquiry guidelines are “fair and strong and make sure that we can and will defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Republican lawmakers continued to decry the process, drawing criticisms from Democrats that they’re making procedural arguments to avoid discussing the president’s behavior.
“No matter what is said by the other side today, this is a dark day and a cloud has fallen on this House,” said Rep. Doug Collins (Ga.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.
“The resolution before us today is not about transparency, it’s about control. It’s not about fairness, it’s about winning,” he said.
But two Democrats who have been directly impacted by impeachment proceedings described the move as a necessity.
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), who as a federal judge was impeached and removed from office in 1989 for allegedly accepting bribes, said, “It’s time for the American people to see how the administration put our national security on the auction block in exchange for political favors.”
Another Florida Democrat, freshman Rep. Donna Shalala, served in the Clinton administration during President Clinton’s impeachment.
“Supporting this continuing inquiry is not a decision that any of us makes lightly,” she said. “It’s with profound sadness and disappointment that we have to continue this investigation. The accusations the House is investigating go straight to the heart of our Constitution.”
Some moderate Democrats who voted for the inquiry stressed that their support for the investigation does not indicate how they may ultimately vote on articles of impeachment.
House lawmakers could vote as soon as this year on articles of impeachment against the president. If approved, the articles would be the subject of a trial in the Senate, where the GOP-led chamber is unlikely to vote to convict the president.