WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives on Tuesday took another step toward impeaching President Trump, passing a resolution urging Vice President Mike Pence to use the 25th Amendment to strip Trump of his powers in the wake of the Capitol siege.
The non-binding 25th Amendment resolution passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives at around 11:30 p.m.
Senior Democrats issued a stark warning to Pence last week: replace Trump as acting president or they would launch impeachment proceedings — making Trump potentially the first US commander-in-chief to be impeached a second time.
But in a letter to Pelosi as lawmakers were voting on the House floor on Tuesday night, Pence said he would not give into demands which would “further divide and inflame the passions of the moment.”
“Last week, I did not yield to pressure to exert power beyond my constitutional authority to determine the outcome of the election, and I will not now yield to the efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious to the life of our Nation,” Pence wrote.
Republicans objecting to the resolution said while they did not condone the president’s actions, they feared Congress was acting inappropriately by applying pressure on Pence to act.
“That responsibility, grave as it is, rests solely with the vice president. There’s no role for Congress in this process,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma).
“We should be very clear about what this resolution actually is: it’s an attempt to pressure the vice president into performing a duty,” he went on, saying he trusted Pence’s judgment and knew he would do the right thing.
Pence and Trump have since spoken following their public falling out in the wake of the riots where Trump made his deputy a target for refusing to overturn Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
During a visit to the border wall in Texas on Tuesday afternoon ahead of Pence’s letter to Pelosi, Trump bullishly declared: “The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me.”
During Tuesday’s House debate, Trump confidante Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) described the Democratic-led proceedings as “scary” and “frightening.”
“I’ve been here 14 years. I’ve never seen anything like this. I do not know where this ends,” Jordan said.
“It is scary what they are throwing in a bill that we’re going to debate for less than an hour!” he yelled, calling on Democrats to reconsider.
But unbowed Democrats, many recounting the horror of being trapped in the chamber as rioters tried to enter, said they had a duty to impeach Trump.
“Members here in this chamber know that for hours the president refused to return their calls begging for help,” said Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pennsylvania).
“If a president can refuse to acknowledge the will of the American voters, then incite a coup to stay in power without punishment, then our democracy is lost,” she said.
“That’s why it’s vital for Vice President Pence and the cabinet do the right thing to invoke the 25th Amendment. Otherwise, this Congress must remove Donald Trump from office,” she said.
The third-ranking House Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney, said Tuesday she will vote to impeach Trump with up to a dozen Republicans expected to follow her.
“There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” Cheney said in a statement.