Shifting course, Democrats plan first floor vote on impeachment inquiry

(Al Drago | The New York Times) Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, along with Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), left, and Mike Conaway (R-Texas), right, outside the area where House impeachment investigators are gathering closed-door testimony.

The House plans to take its first formal vote Thursday on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Democratic leaders said Monday, ushering in a new phase as they prepare to go public with their investigation into his dealings with Ukraine.

Democrats described the vote, in which they plan to “affirm” the inquiry, as a necessary next step to be able to push it forward, rather than a response to sustained criticism from Republicans and the White House, who have accused them of throwing out past impeachment precedents and denying the president due process rights.

But it will be the first time that the full House has gone on record with regard to an inquiry that has been underway since late September. And it comes after Democrats have insisted for weeks that they did not need a formal vote of the full House to authorize the proceedings.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the vote in a letter to colleagues Monday afternoon.

“This resolution establishes the procedure for hearings that are open to the American people, authorizes the disclosure of deposition transcripts, outlines procedures to transfer evidence to the Judiciary Committee as it considers potential articles of impeachment, and sets forth due process rights for the president and his counsel,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., chairman of the House Rules Committee, said he would introduce the resolution, which has not yet been finalized, Tuesday. His panel plans to consider it Wednesday, followed by a vote of the full House on Thursday.

“We are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas or continue obstructing the House of Representatives,” Pelosi wrote.