A majority of House Democrats joined with Republicans on Wednesday to block a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Trump, after Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, forced a vote on the measure.
Green was able to bring the articles of impeachment to the floor through a privileged resolution and had warned for weeks that he was about to do so. But it was expected to go nowhere, in large part because Democratic leaders have said for months that it's far too early to consider the move.
After Green called it up, Republicans made a motion to set it aside, and that GOP motion won easily, as a majority of Democrats supported. The House agreed to table the resolution in a 364-58 vote.
Every Republican present voted to set the resolution aside, along with 126 Democrats. Just 58 Democrats voted against setting it aside, and four Democrats voted "present."
Among the Democrats who supported beginning debate on Trump's impeachment were assistant Democratic leader Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, and Democratic National Committee vice chair Keith Ellison of Minnesota.
While most of his caucus disagreed with him, Green argued that it's time to remove Trump from office based on his actions and statements during his first year.
"[Trump is] unmindful of the high duties of his high office," Green said on the floor Wednesday ahead of the vote. "He has brought disrepute, contempt, and ridicule on the presidency ... He has harmed American society by publicly casting contempt on individuals and groups."
In a letter to colleagues Tuesday, Green said Trump may not be the first "bigot" in the White House, and said, "he is the first who routinely uses Twitter and other public statements to feed alt-right hate machine, antithetical to the constitutionally protected interests of many minorities, women, Muslims and the LGBTQ community."
Five Democrats joined Green in November to introduce new articles of impeachment against Trump, but his decision to force a vote on Wednesday was his alone, and some who signed on to the resolution did not want to be broadcasting the need to move on them right away.
A number of Democrats share Green's sentiment that Trump isn't fit for office, but thought that a move to impeach him when Republicans control all branches of government was futile. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, for example, issued a joint statement rejecting the resolution despite doubting his fitness to be in office.
“This president has made statements and taken actions that are beyond the pale for most Americans, embracing those who espouse hatred and division while promoting policies that would harm our economy and undermine our national security," the Democratic leaders said. "Legitimate questions have been raised about his fitness to lead this nation. Right now, Congressional committees continue to be deeply engaged in investigations into the President’s actions both before and after his inauguration. The special counsel’s investigation is moving forward as well, and those inquiries should be allowed to continue. Now is not the time to consider articles of impeachment.”
The symbolic vote could help Democrats come 2018, but leaders have been wary of forcing one out of fear that it would rile up Trump's base.
Republicans will likely use the vote to target Democrats who supported the measure. Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, began hitting Democrats ahead of the vote, accusing them of pushing the vote to appease Democratic mega-donor Tom Steyer. Steyer launched a campaign urging lawmakers to impeach Trump in October.
"Tom Steyer is going to get his vote on the floor a little later today," Buck tweeted. "Wonder how many votes his money will round up."