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

Pro-impeachment Democrats wary of Al Green's floor vote push
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House Democrats who favor an impeachment inquiry said Tuesday that Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenOvernight Energy: Iconic national parks close over coronavirus concerns | New EPA order limits telework post-pandemic | Lawmakers urge help for oil and gas workers Bipartisan lawmakers urge assistance for oil and gas workers Lawmakers shame ex-Wells Fargo directors for failing to reboot bank MORE's (D-Texas) decision to force a floor vote on impeaching President TrumpDonald John TrumpCampaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis Outgoing inspector general says Trump fired him for carrying out his 'legal obligations' Trump hits Illinois governor after criticism: 'I hear him complaining all the time' 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 AmashFive things being discussed for a new coronavirus relief bill COVID-19, Bill Barr and the American authoritarian tradition Pelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid 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.

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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) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout 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 YarmuthHouse Democrats plead with key committee chairman to allow remote voting amid coronavirus pandemic Kentucky Democrat: House lawmakers will not vote remotely during outbreak Dem Congressman: Coronavirus stimulus should be bigger than 2008 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."

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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-CortezOvernight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims Trump blasts Schumer over 'incorrect sound bites' on coronavirus Trump warns against 'partisan investigations' after Pelosi establishes select committee on virus response MORE (N.Y.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyMaryland Legislative Black Caucus pushes for state to release racial breakdown of coronavirus impact Pressley experiencing flu-like symptoms, being tested for COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senate overcomes hurdles, passes massive coronavirus bill MORE (Mass.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarTexas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill Undocumented aliens should stay away as COVID-19 rages in the US The Southern Poverty Law Center and yesterday's wars MORE (Minn.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus 20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order Pressley, Tlaib introduce bill providing .5B in emergency grants for the homeless 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 HoyerProcedural politics: What just happened with the coronavirus bill? DC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill Lysol, disinfecting wipes and face masks mark coronavirus vote in House 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 ThompsonPelosi forms House committee to oversee coronavirus response Democrats introduce bill to set up commission to review coronavirus response Hillicon Valley: HHS hit by cyberattack amid coronavirus outbreak | Senators urge FCC to shore up internet access for students | Sanders ramps up Facebook ad spending | Dems ask DHS to delay Real ID deadline MORE (D-Miss.), who added he would again vote in favor of Green's resolution.

Rep. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanPelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid House Democrats eyeing much broader Phase 3 stimulus Overnight Defense: Lawmakers clash during Pompeo hearing on Iran | Trump touts Taliban deal ahead of signing | Trump sued over plan to use Pentagon funds for border wall 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.