Republicans seek to delay effort to censure Schiff after Cummings' death

Republicans are seeking to put off for a few days their effort to censure House Intelligence Committee Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGraham: Senate trial 'must expose the whistleblower' Graham says Schiff should be a witness in Trump impeachment trial Democrats seize on new evidence in first public impeachment hearing MORE (D-Calif.) following the death of longtime Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBrindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Elijah Cummings's widow, will run for his House seat Former NAACP president to run for Cummings's House seat MORE (D-Md.), the head of the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who is leading the censure effort against Schiff, had introduced a measure Wednesday that would allow the minority party to force a vote and bring the resolution to the floor by Thursday.

But Biggs wrote to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Speaker Pelosi, it's time to throw American innovators a lifeline Why Americans must tune in to the Trump impeachment hearings MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday to request that the vote on his privileged resolution instead be taken up on Monday, out of respect for their late colleague and those close to him.

Cummings died Thursday at the age of 68.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I am deeply saddened at the passing of our colleague, Chairman Elijah Cummings. He was a fierce advocate for what he believed in. I express condolences to his family and colleagues,” Biggs wrote. 

“Out of respect to him and his family, I instructed my staff to work with your staff, and the staff of the Minority Leader. I do not wish to intrude on the grief felt by his colleagues today by proceeding with a floor vote of my motion to censure Adam Schiff,” he added. 

Biggs requested that Pelosi guarantee a floor vote before the end of Monday’s 6:30 p.m. vote series, when he would be required to reintroduce the measure.

The House conservative leader also criticized Democrats for continuing with a planned hearing Thursday as part of their impeachment probe into President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE.

Biggs called it "questionable" that the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees would continue with a joint hearing behind closed doors.

"It seems grossly inconsistent to minimize floor activity today and tomorrow, and to delay a vote on my resolution while all committees proceed as if nothing happened,” Biggs wrote.

“It is unseemly that Chairman Cummings' own committee is proceeding on the day of his passing while H.Res. 630 is not going to receive a floor vote," he added, referring to his bill.

Biggs went on to blast Schiff for opting not to postpone Thursday's hearing, arguing lawmakers should have been provided time to grieve.

Schiff, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders issued statements and tweets earlier in the day Thursday remembering Cummings, who became a key player in the House impeachment investigation and battled the Trump administration on various issues.

“I am prepared, and frankly, sanguine with the agreement to hold the vote on H.Res. 630 Monday evening,” Biggs wrote Thursday.

“Nevertheless, it is terribly disrespectful that Chairman Schiff could not find a warm spot in his heart to delay his rush to impeach the President for even a single day so that we might all reflect on Chairman Cummings, his life, and things that are bigger than any of us," he wrote.

Biggs's resolution aiming to censure Schiff faces an uphill battle in the Democratic-controlled House, though it has garnered more than 140 GOP co-sponsors, including the support of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyHouse Republicans call impeachment hearing 'boring,' dismiss Taylor testimony as hearsay The Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine House Republicans prepare for public impeachment proceedings with mock hearing MORE (R-Calif.), Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseLive updates on impeachment: Schiff fires warning at GOP over whistleblower Bottom Line Trump allies assail impeachment on process while House Democrats promise open hearings soon MORE (R-La.) and GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyLawmakers call for extra security for anti-Erdoğan protesters  Live updates on impeachment: Schiff fires warning at GOP over whistleblower Overnight Defense: Protests at Trump's NYC Veterans Day speech | House Dems release Pentagon official's deposition transcript | Lawmakers ask Trump to rescind Erdogan invite MORE (R-Wyo.).

The measure is aimed at formally condemning Schiff for using "parody" when recounting details of Trump's call with the leader of Ukraine and for the chairman's remarks stating the committee did not have any prior contact with an intelligence community whistleblower prior to the submission of their complaint that sparked the impeachment inquiry, a comment that Schiff later walked back.

Schiff has defended his exaggerated recounting of Trump’s conversation with the president of Ukraine, arguing his comments during his opening statement at a televised hearing last month were made partially in jest.