Georgia’s five U.S. House Democrats voted on Thursday to formalize their party’s impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, taking a unified front on one of the most radioactive issues before Congress.
Eight of the state’s nine Republicans voted to reject the resolution, which sets rules for how the House investigation will unfold in the coming weeks.
Monroe Republican Jody Hice, whose father died earlier this week, was not present for the vote but has been vocal in his disdain for the impeachment probe.
The final margin was 232 to 196, with every Republican and two Democrats voting against.
The historic nature of the vote was palpable in the House chamber as lawmakers debated the measure. Speaker Nancy Pelosi presided over the proceedings as Democrats delivered impassioned speeches about upholding the Constitution next to a poster of the American flag.
Republican leaders, including U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville, accused Democrats of breaking with precedent set during the impeachments of Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton “in order to stack the deck against a president they hate.”
“Democrats voted to continue a covert process to undo a national election and nullify the will of the American people,” he said after the vote.
The vote kicks off a more public phase of the impeachment inquiry, which Pelosi launched last month to probe whether Trump withheld foreign aid in exchange for Ukraine investigating the Biden family.
Local Democrats expressed confidence that it would help them build public support for the investigation.
“There is a lot of very critical information coming and we owe it to the American people to have this inquiry to make sure that the American people are informed and educated on the facts,” said Atlanta Democrat David Scott.
All hearings and depositions have so far taken place behind closed doors, meetings that were only accessible to members of three House committees.
Thursday’s vote is undoubtedly one of the weightiest and most contentious cast by local lawmakers this year.
That’s particularly true for freshman U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, who’s defending a competitive suburban Atlanta seat she narrowly won last year. McBath has taken a cautious approach to the debate as she’s contended with crushing pressure from her party base to take a forceful stance in favor of impeachment and Republicans who have promised to make her pay no matter what her position.
McBath issued a brief one-sentence statement after backing the resolution: “I voted to formalize the rules for the inquiry process and continue to support the responsibility of this Congress to secure the truth and defend the Constitution.”
Her Republican critics were quick to issue statements declaring her political career all but finished.
Georgia’s 6th Congressional District “deserves a Representative that will fight for our community and for you, not someone who gives her allegiance to Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the impeachment-obsessed Democrats,” said former U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, whom McBath defeated last year and is seeking a rematch in 2020.
Republicans spent weeks lambasting Democrats for refusing to hold a full floor vote formalizing the inquiry and outlining minority party privileges. They were lobbied heavily by the White House to reject the resolution, which they described as insufficient.
“The American people are being denied access to this process, to the information,” West Point Republican Drew Ferguson, the House GOP’s No. 2 vote counter, told reporters after the vote. “This is absolutely wrong and our Republican colleagues stood strong and never bent on this issue.”
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, criticized the GOP for voting in lockstep with Trump.
"Rather than speak to the substance of what has been proven thus far by the president, what has been admitted thus far by the president and his allies.... (Republicans) get stuck on distorting the people about the process,” he said.
HOW THE GEORGIA DELEGATION VOTED
“YES” to support impeachment investigation
Sanford Bishop, D-Albany
Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia
John Lewis, D-Atlanta
Lucy McBath, D-Marietta
David Scott, D-Atlanta
“NO” to oppose impeachment investigation
Buddy Carter, R-Pooler
Drew Ferguson, R-West Point
Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville
Austin Scott, R-Tifton
Doug Collins, R-Gainesville
Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville
Rick Allen, R-Evans
Tom Graves, R-Ranger
Did not vote
Jody Hice, R-Monroe
An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Hice voted against the resolution. He was absent for Thursday’s vote.
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