When the House approved the guidelines for its impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Thursday, more than two dozen Democrats chose to move forward with the probe despite possible political peril.
The Democratic-held chamber approved a resolution setting up its impeachment probe strategy by a margin of 232-196. Two Democrats, Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, voted against the measure. No Republicans backed it, while one independent, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, supported it.
More House Democrats announced support for an impeachment inquiry in the past two months as concerns grew that Trump abused his power to affect the 2020 election, but they had to make a political decision. Trump carried 31 districts in 2016 now represented by Democrats, according to election forecaster Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and most of those lawmakers won their seats for the first time last year. In some cases, Trump won the Democratic-held districts overwhelmingly.
Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., is seen before a news conference at the House Triangle on legislation that would ban offshore drilling September 11, 2019.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
Twenty-nine of those 31 Democrats voted Thursday for the resolution setting up the impeachment probe strategy. Out of all House districts held by Democrats, Peterson’s 7th District gave Trump the most support: the president carried the area by about 30 percentage points. Peterson first won election to the seat in 1990.
Trump won Van Drew’s 2nd District in New Jersey by fewer than 5 percentage points. The Democrat is serving his first term in the House.
Others Democrats whose districts were more pro-Trump than Van Drew’s, such as Reps. Anthony Brindisi of New York, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma and Jared Golden of Maine, voted for the House resolution.
On the other side, Republicans held firm against the resolution despite political risks faced by a handful of members. Democrat Hillary Clinton won three districts in 2016 that Republicans hold.
All three of those GOP lawmakers, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Will Hurd of Texas and John Katko of New York, voted against the measure Thursday. Both Hurd and Katko’s seats are top targets for Democrats in the 2020 election.
Hurd will retire at the end of his current term.
There is no guarantee impeachment will swing close races one way or the other. Support for the House’s inquiry has climbed above 50% nationwide, according to a FiveThirtyEight average. But both impeaching Trump and removing him from office gets less support in public opinion surveys, particularly in some electoral swing states.