House votes on impeachment rules: Local representatives divided along party lines

House votes on impeachment rules: Local representatives divided along party lines

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Area members of the the U.S. House of Representatives remain divided as Congress moves toward a toward possible impeachment of President Donald Trump

On Thursday the House voted, along party lines, to proceed with investigations and public hearings.

House Resolution 660 directs committees to “continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America, and for other purposes.”

Trump has been embroiled in controversy the last several weeks after a whistle-blower filed a complaint alleging that the president wanted to withhold military funding to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation of business dealings in Ukraine by Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic nomination for the 2020 election.

Testimony has been given in closed session hearings to House committees tasked with investigating the situation.

Republican Congressman Bryan Steil, who represents the 1st Congressional District which includes Racine County, voted against the resolution saying “from the start, the process has been secretive and lacked due process.”

“If you’re going to overturn the results of an election, you need to act soberly, deliberately and with incredible seriousness of the situation,” Steil said. “The bill put forward by Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi still allows the judiciary chairman (Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.) to unilaterally eliminate procedural protections that were afforded Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican Richard Nixon.”

The majority of testimony by officials has been in closed session meetings and Steil, who is not part of the committees pursuing the inquiry, called that part of the process “beyond frustrating.”

“I’m not given access to all of the information,” Steil said. “I’m not allowed to see some of the transcripts. A lot of it is behind closed doors. The vote today allows it to continue behind closed doors and to me that’s a sign of the partisanship that we’re dealing with. And I find that frustrating.”

With the 2020 presidential election just over a year away, Steil said he would prefer voters to decide if Trump should remain in office.

Democrat Congresswoman Gwen Moore, a Racine native who represents the 4th Congressional District which includes much of Milwaukee County, voted in favor of the resolution saying that she “never came to Congress to impeach a president, but I will never shirk from my responsibilities to uphold the Constitution and defend our democracy.”

“This vote protects the rights of the president, allows Trump’s lawyers to cross-examine witnesses and guarantees open hearings throughout the process,” Moore said. “From there, members of Congress and the American people can reach conclusions based on the evidence about the serious allegations regarding the president’s abuse of power, betrayal of his oath and other illegitimate activities.”

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