- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The House Rules Committee approved Tuesday the ground rules for the full floor debate on impeachment, setting the stage for the vote to formally charge President Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of justice.

The rule resolution passed on a party-line vote 9-4.

Wednesday will be only the third time in American history the House votes on impeaching the President of the United States.

Democrats and Republicans will each get three hours — and an additional hour to debate the rule itself — to make their last pitches to the American public on both articles before the all-but-inevitable impeachment.

This tees up the votes — one on each article — for Wednesday evening.

The rule also allows for possible consideration of House impeachment managers if the judiciary committee is prepared to send nominations.

The debate time will allow for dozens of members on both sides of the aisle to join the impeachment debate.

“I think that on the floor there will be a lot of interest from a lot of members who don’t sit on the three committees that have been overseeing the investigation to talk about where they stand and why they’re voting — and I think they should be given that opportunity,” Rep. Norma Torres told The Washington Times.

The ground rules for Wednesday’s debate came after Republicans and Democrats sent the day rehashing their cases for and against impeachment in the tiny committee room on the third floor of the U.S. Capitol.

“This president withheld congressionally approved military aid to a country under siege to extract a personal political favor. He did not do this as a matter of U.S. policy. He did this for his own benefit,” Chairman Jim McGovern said at the start of the hearing. “And if that is not impeachable conduct, I don’t know what is!”

The article of impeachment for abuse of power stems from allegations that Mr. Trump leveraged a White House meeting and nearly $400 million in military aid to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate political rival Joseph R. Biden and Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election.

The second article, obstruction of Congress, is rooted in the administration’s refusal to cooperate with Democrats’ subpoenas of witnesses and documents in the impeachment inquiry.

Republicans continued to assert the president’s innocence, rail against the process and condemn the partisan split throughout the proceedings.

“Speaker Pelosi assured us all that she would not move forward with impeachment unless it was bipartisan and unless there was a clear consensus in the country — neither of those two commissions are present here,” ranking member Rep. Tom Cole, Oklahoma Republican said.

Two members from the House Judiciary Committee — Jamie Raskin and ranking member Doug Collins — spent hours answering questions from their colleagues on the rules committee about the investigation.

Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler was out of town Tuesday because of a family medical emergency.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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