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On Motion to Table: H.Res. 646: Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, of high misdemeanors.

Dec 6, 2017 at 2:09 p.m. ET.

This was a vote to kill H.Res. 646, a resolution impeaching President Donald Trump.

On December 6, 2017, Rep. Al Green introduced articles of impeachment against President Trump. Green introduced the resolution as a privileged motion and it was voted on the same day. As expected the resolution did not move forward, losing by 364–58 with all Republicans and most Democrats voting in favor of tabling the resolution, i.e. to kill the resolution.

High crimes or misdemeanors

Green’s resolution, H.Res. 646: Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, of high misdemeanors, is not the first impeachment resolution against the President introduced this session. In July, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA30) introduced H.Res. 438 and in November, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN9) introduced H.Res. 621. However, both Sherman and Cohen focused on the crimes side of “high crimes and misdemeanors” and argued for impeachment based on what they believed to be the President’s obstruction of justice with respect to investigations relating to the Russian’s government’s role in the 2016 election and subsequent administration actions.

Green, on the other hand, focused on the misdemeanors side arguing that the President’s apparent support of white supremacy in a variety of policies, press conferences and via Twitter causes harm to the United States. In a letter to colleagues, he argued that the framers of the Constitution intended to provide Congress with a method for removing any President who does so. Green’s resolution, had it passed, would have impeached the President for being, in Green’s words, openly and explicitly racist.

The resolution accuses the President of

  • bringing “disrepute, contempt, ridicule and disgrace on the Presidency”
  • “associating … the presidency with causes rooted in white supremacy, bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, white nationalism”
  • “inciting hate and hostility … on the basis of race, national origin, religion, gender, and sexual orientation”

What supporters say

Representative Al Green (D-TX9), sponsor of articles of impeachment against President Trump

The articles of impeachment make two primary points: the first is that President Trump’s bigotry causes greater and less easily eradicated harm than obstruction of justice because while crimes have specific punishments, poisoning public discourse and sowing discord do not. The second is that impeachment does not require a crime. He notes that article 10 of Andrew Johnson’s articles of impeachment reads:

“Which said utterances, declarations, threats and harangues, highly censurable in any, are peculiarly indecent and unbecoming in the Chief Magistrate of the United States, by means whereof the said Andrew Johnson has brought the high office of the President of the United States into contempt, ridicule and disgrace, to the great scandal of all good citizens, whereby said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, did commit, and was then and there guilty of a high misdemeanor in office.”

If Andrew Johnson could be impeached for his public behavior when it disgraced the office of the Presidency, then Green believes President Trump can and should be as well.

What opponents say

Both the Democratic leadership and the White House opposed these articles of impeachment. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA12), the House Minority Leader, said that impeachment should not move forward until or unless there is evidence of crimes. The White House, as one might expect, does not believe that President Trump is a bigot or that he has disgraced the office. Raj Shah, a White House spokesperson, told Politico “It’s disappointing that extremists in Congress still refuse to accept the President’s decisive victory in last year’s election…Their time would be better spent focusing on tax relief for American families and businesses, and working to fund our troops and veterans through the holiday season rather than threaten a government shutdown.”

Vote

The vote against the resolution was decisive, losing by 364–58. Neither of the other resolutions of impeachment introduced this session have gone anywhere either — — nor are they expected to.

Articles of impeachment against the President and related sorts of resolutions aren’t uncommon. President Obama faced at least one resolution of condemnation and President Bush a resolution of impeachment. Neither of those resolutions went anywhere either. The previous president, President Clinton, was impeached (but not subsequently convicted by the Senate).

Another open question is the definition of what constitutes an impeachable offense. In 2014 and 2015, bills were introduced to define impeachable offenses. Both sponsors were Republicans, but while the 2015 resolution seemed to be tailored to President Obama, the 2014 resolution was tailored to whoever won the 2016 election and appeared to be addressing at least as many actions of the Bush Administration as the Obama Administration. These too never went to committee or received votes.

This vote was related to a resolution introduced by Rep. Al Green [D-TX9] on December 6, 2017, H.Res. 646 (115th): Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, of high misdemeanors..

Totals

All Votes R D
Yea 86%
 
 
364
238
 
126
 
Nay 14%
 
 
58
0
 
58
 
Present
 
 
4
0
 
4
 
Not Voting
 
 
6
1
 
5
 

Passed. Simple Majority Required. Source: house.gov.

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Study Guide

How well do you understand this vote? Use this study guide to find out.

You can find answers to most of the questions below here on the vote page. For a guide to understanding the resolution this vote was about, see here.

What was the procedure for this vote?

  1. What was this vote on?
  2. Not all votes are meant to pass legislation. In the Senate some votes are not about legislation at all, since the Senate must vote to confirm presidential nominations to certain federal positions.

    This vote is related to a resolution. However, that doesn’t necessarily tell you what it is about. Congress makes many decisions in the process of passing legislation, such as on the procedures for debating the resolution, whether to change the resolution before voting on passage, and even whether to vote on passage at all.

    You can learn more about the various motions used in Congress at EveryCRSReport.com. If you aren’t sure what the House was voting on, try seeing if it’s on this list.

  3. What is the next step after this vote?
  4. Take a look at where this resolution is in the legislative process. What might come next? Keep in mind what this specific vote was on, and the context of the resolution. Will there be amendments? Will the other chamber of Congress vote on it, or let it die?

    For this question it may help to briefly examine the resolution itself.

What is your analysis of this vote?

  1. What trends do you see in this vote?
  2. Members of Congress side together for many reasons beside being in the same political party, especially so for less prominent legislation or legislation specific to a certain region. What might have determined how the roll call came out in this case? Does it look like Members of Congress voted based on party, geography, or some other reason?

    One tool that will be helpful in answering this question is the cartogram at the top of the page. A cartogram is a stylized map of the United States that shows each district as an identical hexagon. This view allows you to see the how the representatives from each district voted arranged by their geography and colored by their political party. What trends can you see in the cartogram for this vote?

  3. How did your representative vote?
  4. There is one vote here that should be more important to you than all the others. These are the votes cast by your representative, which is meant to represent you and your community. Do you agree with how your representative voted? Why do you think they voted the way they did?

    If you don’t already know who your Members of Congress are you can find them by entering your address here.

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