AUSTIN (KXAN) — A House divided down the middle took steps forward Thursday to formalize the impeachment inquiry process and make the ongoing congressional investigation open to the public.
The resolution was approved with a vote of 232 to 196. All of the Texas Democrats voted for the resolution. All of the Republicans voted no.
Impeachment in Washington
House Democrats have been meeting for weeks behind closed doors to investigate complaints that President Donald Trump pressured the Ukrainian president by withholding military aid unless Ukraine investigated former Vice President Joe Biden.
Republicans like U.S. Congressman Will Hurt said they think Democrats aren’t being as open as they should be.
“The word that was used in the piece of legislation was ‘may’,” Hurt said. “May means you can or cannot do something. When you want to compel someone to do something the word is “shall.” And shall was not used in this.”
Trump has denied there was anything wrong with the call to the Ukrainian president and said the call was “perfect.”
What all of this means is the House vote set the stage for public hearings in the impeachment inquiry, and Texan politicians could play a key role in that process.
How Texans are affecting impeachment
Texas Democrat Al Green was the first member of Congress to call for the impeachment of President Trump. He has been voted down three separate times.
Green released a statement after Thursday’s House vote calling it a “step in the right direction” and saying it is the right thing to do to defend our democracy and protect our republic.
Now the House vote has moved the inquiry to the public hearings stage, meaning the House Intelligence Committee would preside over the public hearings.
Four Texans serve on that committee: Democrat Joaquin Castro and Republicans Mike Conaway, Will Hurd and John Ratcliffe.
Members of the House Judiciary Committee will be responsible for drawing up the articles of impeachment if the process moves beyond an inquiry.
Five Texans, three Democrats and two Republicans, are on that committee. The Democrats are Veronica Escobar, Sylvia Garcia and Sheila Jackson Lee, and then the two Republicans are Louie Gohmert and John Ratcliffe.
How the people of Texas feel about impeachment
James Henson, Director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas, recently released a poll looking at Texans’ attitudes toward impeachment.
When asked are congressional impeachment investigations of President Trump justified, 46% of everyday Texans said yes, 42% said no.
“It’s pretty close in the sense that Texans are pretty evenly divided on impeachment and really all things related to congressional action towards President Trump,” Henson said.
Henson said in the past that Independents in a one-party state like Texas haven’t mattered very much. However, he said they matter more now that Texas politics are becoming more competitive.
According to Henson’s poll, about 14% more of Independents support the impeachment proceedings than oppose it, but there’s still a quarter that don’t have an opinion yet.
“We’re looking at them more, and they’re very interesting on impeachment,” Henderson said. “So Independents, like everyone else, are going to be hard fought on this, and they haven’t made up their mind.”
Henson said he thinks right now most people expect impeachment is all but certain in a democratically dominated House. However, his poll shows when asked do President Trump’s actions merit early removal from office, 43% say yes and 44% say no.
The Republicans have the majority in the Senate and Henson said because of this there aren’t enough votes to actually convict the president.
“About 80% of Democrats think he should be removed,” Henson said. “About 80% of Republicans think he shouldn’t. Until those republican numbers change, and that’s very similar to what we’re seeing nationally, it’s going to be very hard to see a lot of republicans in the Senate shifting.”
Henson said what he found the most interesting and surprising about the poll was the degree of division among Independents in Texas. He said they expected them to lean towards a more conservative Republican position, but that’s not what they are doing.
“The fact that Independents are not leaning that way in the impeachment and removal discussion is a very interesting sign, and it’s a sign of some of the underlining changes we’re seeing in the state.”