The House on Thursday took its first major step toward making Donald Trump just the third president in history to be impeached, approving procedures for an inquiry likely to burst into full public view in weeks.
The measure, which establishes rules for open hearings and the questioning of witnesses by members and staff, passed in a 232-196 party-line vote with just two Democrats voting against it and no Republicans supporting it.
The Democrats who voted no were Reps. Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Jefferson Van Drew (N.J.), who both represent districts won by Trump in the 2016 election.
Rep. Justin Amash, an Independent from Michigan who left the GOP this year after he endorsed impeaching Trump, voted for the measure.
Democrats cast the vote as a serious step that upheld the House’s constitutional role as an independent branch of the government.
“This is something that is very solemn, that is something prayerful,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif,.) said in a floor speech ahead of the vote. “What is at stake in all of this is nothing less than our democracy.”
Pelosi presided over the chamber during the vote, a step meant to underscore the significance of the moment. During her floor speech, she stood next to a poster of the American flag.
Republicans said Democrats were seeking to remove a president they cannot defeat at the ballot box, and argued it was improper to move forward just a year before the presidential election.
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