WASHINGTON – The House Rules Committee will meet Tuesday to debate the rules governing the floor debate about whether to impeach President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The 11 a.m. committee debate could last hours, as lawmakers debate issues such as how long the floor debate should last, which committees should have members debate on the floor and whether proposals for amendments should be allowed. The floor debate, which will be only the third time in history that the chamber debates impeachment recommendations from the Judiciary Committee against a president, is expected Wednesday and Thursday.
The Judiciary Committee recommended two articles of impeachment Friday, after party-line votes with Democrats supporting the charges and Republicans opposing them. The debate in the Rules Committee and on the floor could be just as polarized.
The Rules Committee is expected to hear presentations from Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on that panel. After a question-and-answer period, any other House lawmakers could address the committee to offer a perspective on the articles of impeachment.
After the member statements, the committee will consider motions to potentially change or remove provisions in whatever floor rules the Democratic leadership has proposed. But Democrats outnumber Republicans on the panel 9 to 4, so adversarial proposals are unlikely so succeed.
The accusations against Trump described in a 658-page Judiciary report Monday. The first article charged that the president abused his power by pressure Ukraine to investigate his domestic political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, which would have interfered in the 2020 presidential election. The second article charged that the Trump obstructed the Congressional impeachment inquiry into his conduct by directing administration officials and agencies not to cooperate with the inquiry.
“We cannot rely on the next election as a remedy for presidential misconduct when the President is seeking to threaten the very integrity of that election,” the report said. “We must act immediately.”
But Trump has said he was justified in urging Ukraine to fight corruption. He called the inquiry a partisan “witch hunt” that his administration defied because it was biased.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the Oversight and Reform Committee, has argued that the president has a strong case. Jordan noted that Trump met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and released $391 million in military aid without Ukraine announcing any investigations in Biden.
“The facts are on the president’s side,” Jordan said. “This is a ridiculous case that the Democrats are bringing.”