Democratic Rep. Al Green of Texas on Tuesday introduced his articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, which will force the House to take up the measure later this week.
Green’s resolution is unlikely to lead to an actual vote on impeachment in the House, but he can force the chamber to act on it under House rules within two legislative days, creating a dilemma for House Democratic leaders and the moderate Democrats who have largely tried to avoid the issue of impeachment.
While Green said Tuesday that he wants an up-or-down vote on articles of impeachment, the House has several options to dispose of his effort, though they each have drawbacks. The House could vote to table, or kill, the resolution, but that would in effect put lawmakers on the record about impeachment.
The House could also vote to refer the resolution to the Judiciary Committee, but Republicans would likely oppose that vote, forcing Democrats to vote in favor of the referral in order to move the resolution off the floor.
House leaders weren’t saying how they would handle the resolution on Tuesday before Green formally introduced it.
“That will be up to our leadership team to decide,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said when asked about Green’s push for a vote.
“We haven’t really discussed how to dispose of it,” said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. “I’m not gonna try to discourage him, you know, he has to do what he thinks is right.”
Green has previously introduced privileged resolutions forcing a floor vote on impeachment in December 2017 and January 2018. In both cases, the Republican-led House decided to table the measure, voting 354-58 and 355-66, respectively.
But this is the first time Green has forced a vote with Democrats controlling the House.
Democrats said Tuesday that they understood Green’s steadfast beliefs that the impeachment resolution was necessary, but they questioned the timing of his move: a week before special counsel Robert Mueller testifies and at a time that the caucus reminds divided on the question of impeachment.
“I cannot control what another member does. It looks like that’s going to happen. We will just have to deal with that,” said Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, the head of the House Democratic campaign arm.
“Look, if he brings it, I’m going to vote for it. Do I think that’s the most strategic thing right now, without a game plan? Who knows,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat.
Green said he informed Democratic leadership that he planned to introduce his resolution Tuesday, adding that he understood that it could be a tough vote for his colleagues but that still would not deter him.
“I believe if we don’t do this, the President will only intensify his ugly behavior,” Green said. “It just seemed to me that we should bring these articles before the House of Representatives so that we could not only condemn him, but impeach him so that he will understand that there are some boundaries.”
While much of the impeachment debate in the Democratic caucus is focused on what Mueller found in his investigation, Green said he left that out of the resolution he introduced this week.
Green referenced the President’s racist tweets this past weekend targeting four Democratic congresswomen of color, which were condemned by the House in a vote Tuesday moments before Green introduced his impeachment resolution. Green also said he was citing Trump’s past comments and actions on race and immigration that included calling asylum speakers “invaders” and saying there were “very fine people on both sides” after the 2017 white nationalist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Green said that he would oppose votes both to table his resolution or to refer it to the Judiciary Committee, where the committee would not be required to take any action.
“I think the normal procedure is to send it to our committee,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said Tuesday when asked about Green’s resolution.
That’s the action Democrats took when Pelosi was speaker in 2008, after then-Rep. Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat, introduced a resolution to impeach President George W. Bush. The measure was referred to the committee in a 251-166 vote, with 24 Republicans joining Democrats to refer it.
Green isn’t the only one pushing for additional action following Tuesday’s House vote in response to Trump’s tweets. Rep. Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat who had advocated for impeachment, said he introduced a resolution to formally censure the President for his tweets.
But Cohen was also supporting Green’s impeachment push.
“I’d certainly vote for it. Whether it’s prudent or not is not for me to ascertain,” he said. “I think it’s the right thing to do.”