Facebook Twitter Comments Slate Plus

First Impeachment Effort Fails in the House

Rep. Al Green
Rep. Al Green.
Stan Honda/Getty Images

It appears President Donald Trump, for now, is safe in his job.

The House on Wednesday afternoon held a procedural vote on an impeachment resolution introduced by Texas Rep. Al Green. As a privileged resolution, Green had the ability to force a vote, something he stopped just short of doing earlier this fall. The vote on Wednesday was a “motion to table”—to disregard, essentially—Green’s resolution. The motion succeeded, 364 to 58, with four Democrats voting present.

It was the first vote on impeachment in the House, and one that the the two top-ranking Democrats, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, and most members, very much did not want. Democrats in even vaguely competitive districts do not want to have to explain to their base why they voted to block impeachment, or explain to the general electorate why they voted to advance it. It is, in their minds, a distraction from the economic message they see as key to their success. In a joint, carefully worded statement ahead of the vote, Pelosi and Hoyer called for patience.

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. 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 Democratic votes against tabling—i.e., the votes for advancing impeachment—hailed from the very safest seats within the Democratic conference, many of them members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The highest-ranking Democrat to vote against tabling was South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the no. 3 Democrat and the highest-ranking African-American in Congress. Other noteworthy members of the 58 included New York Rep. Louise Slaughter, the leadership ally and ranking member of the powerful House Rules Committee; fellow impeachment enthusiasts from California like Rep. Maxine Waters, Brad Sherman, and Ted Lieu; the Democratic National Committee vice chair, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison; the civil rights icon, Georgia Rep. John Lewis; and others. One ambitious young member of the Democratic caucus, Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, also voted against tabling. Another, Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, was one of four Democrats who voted present.

Green mostly sat alone on the floor as the votes against his resolution rolled in.

One more thing

You depend on Slate for sharp, distinctive coverage of the latest developments in politics and culture. Now we need to ask for your support.

Our work is more urgent than ever and is reaching more readers—but online advertising revenues don’t fully cover our costs, and we don’t have print subscribers to help keep us afloat. So we need your help. If you think Slate’s work matters, become a Slate Plus member. You’ll get exclusive members-only content and a suite of great benefits—and you’ll help secure Slate’s future.

Join Slate Plus