Pro-impeachment Democrats wary of Al Green's floor vote push

Pro-impeachment Democrats wary of Al Green's floor vote push
© Greg Nash/Getty Images

House Democrats who favor an impeachment inquiry said Tuesday that Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenIlhan Omar to Biden: 'Deliver on your promise to cancel student debt' Deportations of Haitians spark concerns over environmental refugees The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Gears begin to shift in Congress on stalled Biden agenda MORE's (D-Texas) decision to force a floor vote on impeaching President TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE in the coming days won't necessarily be helpful to their cause.

A total of 84 House Democrats, as well as independent Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashDemocrats defend Afghan withdrawal amid Taliban advance Vietnam shadow hangs over Biden decision on Afghanistan Kamala Harris and our shameless politics MORE (Mich.), have publicly endorsed impeachment. But House Democratic leaders remain opposed and want to build more public support with their investigations of the Trump administration before possibly moving forward with impeachment proceedings.

ADVERTISEMENT

Green announced Monday that he would force a House floor vote on impeachment before lawmakers leave for the August recess. He forced two votes on impeachment in the previous Congress — in December 2017 and January 2018 — when Republicans controlled the House.

Both of those procedural votes failed, but they drew support from about 60 Democrats each time.

A vote in the coming days would mark the first time the House has voted on impeachment since Democrats took over the majority in January. But with most Democrats still opposed to impeachment, a vote would put their divisions on the record.

Democrats who support impeachment said they would likely vote for Green's effort. But they suggested his timing wasn't ideal, given that former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE is slated to testify before Congress next week.

"I think it might be cathartic for some members," said House Budget Committee Chairman John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthHoyer signals House vote on bill to 'remove' debt limit threat Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - New front in mandate wars; debt bill heads to Biden MORE (D-Ky.), who supports impeachment.

But, he acknowledged, "I think the timing's awkward with Mueller coming next week and we have a recess coming. That's probably not the best time to do it."

ADVERTISEMENT

House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said he would "most likely" vote in favor of Green's resolution, as he did in the previous Congress.

But McGovern voiced concern about a lack of unity in the caucus on impeachment.

"I think it's important to have consensus before we have a debate and a vote on that," McGovern said.

Green said Tuesday that his impeachment measure would be similar to his previous articles of impeachment that accused Trump of inflaming racial tensions in America.

Green said he's forcing the vote in the aftermath of Trump's tweets targeting four progressive minority freshman lawmakers — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez goes indoor skydiving for her birthday Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention More than 200 women, transgender inmates to be transferred from Rikers Island MORE (N.Y.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyOvernight Health Care — Presented by The National Council for Mental Wellbeing — FDA panel advises Moderna booster shot for high-risk people Ilhan Omar to Biden: 'Deliver on your promise to cancel student debt' Biden's Red Queen justice: How he destroyed both the investigation and the reputation of border agents MORE (Mass.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarDemocrats step up pressure on Biden on student loan forgiveness Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention Bleak midterm outlook shadows bitter Democratic battle MORE (Minn.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibIlhan Omar to Biden: 'Deliver on your promise to cancel student debt' Who's the boss? Pelosi's legacy sealed after kowtowing to 'the Squad' Democratic civil war hits new heights MORE (Mich.) — in which the president said they should "go back" to their countries, even though all are U.S. citizens.

The House is set to vote Tuesday on a resolution to formally condemn Trump's comments as racist.

Green argued that the House should go beyond Tuesday's resolution.

"We can do this, condemn the comments that have been made, and we can do this, impeach for the harm that the comments are causing to our society. Both of these things can be done," Green said in a floor speech.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHoyer signals House vote on bill to 'remove' debt limit threat Feehery: Build back bipartisan Bottom line MORE (D-Md.), noting that Green has not yet introduced his articles, said leaders have not plotted a strategy surrounding the threatened vote.
 
"We'll figure out how to deal with it at that point in time. But we haven't had a discussion about that," Hoyer told reporters in the Capitol.
 
Hoyer said he has not spoken with Green about the threatened vote, but suggested that leadership won't try to put up any road blocks if the Texas Democrat follows through.
 
"I think he feels strongly about it, and if he deems it appropriate to offer it, he'll offer it," Hoyer said. "I'm not going to try to discourage him. He has to do what he thinks is right."
 
Still, Hoyer emphasized that leadership considers the push for impeachment to be premature, preferring to continue their aggressive investigations into the administration — including next week's much anticipated public testimony from Mueller.
 
Some Democrats who are in favor of impeachment said they're unconcerned with Green's efforts.

"I'm fine with it. I'm not going to overthink it," said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle Bennie Thompson not ruling out subpoenaing Trump Jan. 6 panel to pursue criminal contempt referral for Bannon MORE (D-Miss.), who added he would again vote in favor of Green's resolution.

Rep. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanOvernight Defense & National Security — Congress begins Afghanistan grilling US says about 1,500 citizens remain in Afghanistan How Congress can advance peace with North Korea MORE (D-Calif.), who reintroduced an article of impeachment against Trump on the first day of the new Congress in January, said he would vote in favor of Green's effort. But he acknowledged that Democrats still have a ways to go in gaining widespread public support and convincing GOP lawmakers to get on board. 

A recent Gallup poll found that 53 percent of voters oppose impeachment, compared with 45 percent who are in favor. While a majority remain opposed, the percentage that does favor impeaching Trump is higher than the number who supported impeaching former President Clinton or former President Nixon at the start of the Watergate scandal.

"There are a lot of things to do to expose the president and to change public opinion. This could be part of it, but a lot more to do," Sherman said.

"What I'm waiting for is to see some Republican senator who takes their oath of office seriously enough to say that they would at least listen with an open mind should we bring [impeachment]. And in order to get there, we have to change public opinion," Sherman said.

Mike Lillis contributed.