Vulnerable Democrats swing behind impeachment push

Vulnerable House Democrats are falling in line to vote for articles of impeachment against President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden on Trump's refusal to commit to peaceful transfer of power: 'What country are we in?' Romney: 'Unthinkable and unacceptable' to not commit to peaceful transition of power Two Louisville police officers shot amid Breonna Taylor grand jury protests 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 RoseLawmakers fear voter backlash over failure to reach COVID-19 relief deal The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Pence lauds Harris as 'experienced debater'; Trump, Biden diverge over debate prep Navy cancels training flight over NYC on 9/11 after criticism 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 PetersonKate Schroder in Ohio among Democratic challengers squelching GOP hopes for the House The Hill's Campaign Report: 19 years since 9/11 | Dem rival to Marjorie Taylor Greene drops out | Collin Peterson faces fight of his career | Court delivers blow to ex-felon voting rights in Florida Peterson faces fight of his career in deep-red Minnesota district 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 SchrierPelosi: House will stay in session until agreement is reached on coronavirus relief Washington Rep. Kim Schrier wins primary US ill-prepared for coronavirus-fueled mental health crisis 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 McBathThis week: House returns for pre-election sprint House Democrats' campaign arm reserves .6M in ads in competitive districts Black Lives Matter movement to play elevated role at convention MORE (Ga.) and Debbie Mucarsel-PowellDebbie Mucarsel-PowellFlorida Democrat asks FBI to investigate anti-Semitic, racist disinformation Hispanic Caucus members embark on 'virtual bus tour' with Biden campaign Florida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum 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 ClintonDemocratic groups using Bloomberg money to launch M in Spanish language ads in Florida The Hill's Campaign Report: Presidential polls tighten weeks out from Election Day More than 50 Latino faith leaders endorse Biden 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 CartwrightRaces heat up for House leadership posts Trump Jr. seeks to elect 'new blood' to Republican Party Republicans face worsening outlook in battle for House 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 BloombergDemocratic groups using Bloomberg money to launch M in Spanish language ads in Florida Bloomberg pays fines for 32,000 felons in Florida so they can vote Top Democratic super PAC launches Florida ad blitz after Bloomberg donation 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 SpanbergerTrump asked Chamber of Commerce to reconsider Democratic endorsements: report Virginians wait up to four hours to cast early voting ballots The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Pence lauds Harris as 'experienced debater'; Trump, Biden diverge over debate prep MORE (Va.), Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerTrump asked Chamber of Commerce to reconsider Democratic endorsements: report House Democrats' campaign arm reserves .6M in ads in competitive districts GOP leader says he doesn't want Chamber's endorsement: 'They have sold out' MORE (Iowa) and Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornKate Schroder in Ohio among Democratic challengers squelching GOP hopes for the House GOP women's group rolls out six-figure campaign for Ernst Trump asked Chamber of Commerce to reconsider Democratic endorsements: report 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 PelosiHoyer: House should vote on COVID-19 aid — with or without a bipartisan deal Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose at Supreme Court McCarthy threatens motion to oust Pelosi if she moves forward with impeachment 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.