Vulnerable Democrats swing behind impeachment push

Vulnerable House Democrats are falling in line to vote for articles of impeachment against President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice says it will recommend Trump veto FISA bill Fauci: Nominating conventions may be able to go on as planned Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally MORE despite expressing nervousness in recent days about what will be their most momentous vote this year. 

Two freshman Democrats joined colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee in backing the two articles of impeachment in Friday’s 23-17 panel vote, and a steady stream of fellow swing-district Democrats have been announcing their plans to support them.

“A president coercing a foreign government into targeting American citizens is not just another example of scorched earth politics, it serves as an invitation to the enemies of the United States to come after any citizen, so long as they disagree with the President,” freshman Rep. Max RoseMax RoseMax Rose calls on Trump to use Defense Production Act to ensure small businesses have PPE 125 lawmakers urge Trump administration to support National Guard troops amid pandemic House Democrat to introduce legislation allowing governors to extend National Guard deployments MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

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“Embarking on an unprecedented effort to obstruct this inquiry doesn’t make the facts any less true. Therefore I will vote in support of the two Articles of Impeachment,” he said.

Freshman Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas), who flipped a GOP-held district that’s trending blue, similarly said Trump’s actions trying to enlist the Ukrainian government to investigate his political rivals were an “unacceptable violation of his oath of office and constitute an impeachable abuse of power.”

Democratic lawmakers and aides said this week they only expected a handful of defections.

So far, freshman New Jersey Rep. Jefferson Van Drew remains the only Democrat to make clear he intends to vote against the articles. He said this week he expected Rep. Collin PetersonCollin Clark PetersonFrom farmers to grocery store clerks, thank you to all of our food system Group of House Democrats asks for 0 billion for testing The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Chef José Andrés says most political leaders today are not acting with urgency; Dems crafting 'Rooseveltian' relief package MORE (D-Minn.) — who has yet to issue an official position — to join him in voting "no." The two were the only Democrats to oppose a resolution establishing procedures for the inquiry in late October.

Many of the lawmakers in competitive districts made a point of touting the legislative accomplishments they secured this week, namely a deal with the Trump administration on a North American trade pact and Democrats’ bill aimed at reducing prescription drug prices, to try to show they aren’t just focused on impeachment.

Rose pointed to legislation permanently funding health benefits for 9/11 first responders along with other bills important to his district, stating: “Whether the Senate votes to remove the president or not, I will continue to focus on getting results for the people of Staten Island and South Brooklyn.”

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Allred said he would “not allow this process to distract me from the important work of delivering real results for North Texas families.”

In addition to the North American trade pact and prescription drug bill, House Democratic leaders are teeing up a vote on legislation to temporarily repeal a controversial provision of the 2017 GOP tax law that caps the state and local tax deduction. 

That’s expected to offer another boost for vulnerable Democrats in high-tax states such as New York, New Jersey and California.

A number of centrist Democrats facing challenging reelection battles have been cagey over their support for impeachment, telling the hordes of reporters hounding them in the Capitol hallways that they were still taking time to mull their decisions.

By Friday, the announcements from Democrats in swing districts were quickly piling up.

Democrats who have announced in the past 24 hours that they will vote for the articles of impeachment include Reps. Conor Lamb (Pa.), Kim SchrierKimberly (Kim) Merle SchrierHuman Rights Campaign rolls out congressional endorsements on Equality Act anniversary Washington state lawmakers press Boeing to accept aid Overnight Health Care: House panel advances legislation on surprise medical bills | Planned Parenthood, ACLU sue over Trump abortion coverage rule | CDC identifies 13th US patient with coronavirus MORE (Wash.), Katie Porter (Calif.), Susie LeeSuzanne (Susie) Kelley LeeMORE (Nev.) and Tom O’Halleran (Ariz.).

“Trump abused the power of the presidency and broke his oath of office when he bribed the nation of Ukraine by withholding military aid they had already been promised in exchange for help investigating a political opponent,” O’Halleran, whose district Trump won by 1 percentage point in 2016, said in a statement. 

“I will vote to impeach the president because this bribery and abuse of power violated the constitution and put our national security and our international relationships at risk,” he said.

The two Judiciary freshmen who backed the articles of impeachment in Friday’s vote were Reps. Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden leads Trump by 6 points in new poll Warren announces slate of endorsements including Wendy Davis and Cornyn challenger Hegar How the GOP hopes to overcome steep odds in House battle MORE (Ga.) and Debbie Mucarsel-PowellDebbie Mucarsel-PowellThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: CDC Director Redfield responds to Navarro criticism; Mnuchin and Powell brief Senate panel Human Rights Campaign rolls out congressional endorsements on Equality Act anniversary Coral Princess cruise ship with cases of coronavirus docks in Miami MORE (Fla.).

Mucarsel-Powell — who defeated a GOP incumbent by just over a point last year in a south Florida district that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonNew FBI document confirms the Trump campaign was investigated without justification California 25 and COVID-19 The Memo: Trump tweets cross into new territory MORE carried in 2016 — acknowledged that her district is torn over impeachment.

“I do know that there are so many people in the country that are divided,” Mucarsel-Powell told MSNBC’s Katy Tur on Friday afternoon. “In my district, I hope that they trust when I took that vote, I had everyone's safety and future in mind. I did it for our children so that we can actually protect our system of government.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP’s campaign arm, as well as outside GOP groups, already have spent millions of dollars on ads hammering vulnerable Democrats over the impeachment issue.

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The Trump reelection campaign also has mounted an anti-impeachment ad blitz, running thousands of ads on Facebook targeting the 31 Democrats who represent districts that Trump won in 2016.

At-risk Democrats have privately and publicly lamented that they are being pummeled on the airwaves and online over the looming impeachment vote. Rep. Matt CartwrightMatthew (Matt) Alton CartwrightHouse Democrats make initial ad buys in battleground states Trump, GOP go all-in on anti-China strategy The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden leads Trump by 6 points in new poll MORE (D-Pa.) told The Hill that GOP groups have blanketed his district with nearly a half-million dollars in anti-impeachment TV ads in recent weeks, something he called “a king’s ransom.”

Only now are these Democrats beginning to get some air cover. Billionaire businessman Michael BloombergMichael BloombergIt's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Liberals embrace super PACs they once shunned .7 billion expected to be spent in 2020 campaign despite coronavirus: report MORE, who’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination, donated $10 million Thursday to help shore up House members on the front lines.

The Democratic super PAC House Majority Forward announced Friday it would spend $2.5 million to run ads thanking 16 vulnerable freshmen for voting to pass prescription drug legislation this week. Those Democratic lawmakers include Rose and Reps. Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerThe Hill's Campaign Report: DOJ, intel to be major issues in 2020 Human Rights Campaign rolls out congressional endorsements on Equality Act anniversary The 14 Democrats who broke with their party on coronavirus relief vote MORE (Va.), Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerHouse Democrats make initial ad buys in battleground states Trump lends support to swing district Republicans Iowa Democrat tops Ernst in early fundraising report MORE (Iowa) and Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornHuman Rights Campaign rolls out congressional endorsements on Equality Act anniversary The 14 Democrats who broke with their party on coronavirus relief vote Congress must return to session MORE (Okla.). 

“Abigail Spanberger passed a bill to let Medicare negotiate lower drug prices for all Americans,” the narrator in one ad says, “and Spanberger was the sponsor of another bill, passed by Democrats and Republicans, to stop drug companies from hiding their costs.”

Asked Thursday what her message was to vulnerable Democrats who were undecided, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMcCarthy urges Democrats to pull surveillance bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Major space launch today; Trump feuds with Twitter How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response MORE (D-Calif.) reiterated that House Democratic leaders are not conducting a formal whip count for the impeachment articles because it's a vote of “conscience.”

“People have to come to their own conclusions,” Pelosi said.