WASHINGTON — The House is preparing this week its first formal vote related to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, forcing officials to go beyond public statements and adding symbolic heft to the effort.
Some in the Philadelphia region have been more eager for this moment than others.
Those from more liberal districts have been advocating an aggressive posture toward the president for months, long before the revelations of his pressure on Ukraine turned the Democratic tide in favor of an impeachment inquiry.
Others from more moderate districts had long resisted, urging a focus on local issues, until they said Trump had crossed a line by pushing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
And two lawmakers from the area — one Democratic and one Republican — still oppose the impeachment inquiry. The Democrat, Rep. Jeff Van Drew of Cape May County, indicated Tuesday he will also vote against the Democratic resolution establishing the inquiry’s rules. (None of the districts in the Philadelphia region are as deeply conservative as the more rural areas where Trump is most popular.)
Below is a breakdown of where local House members stand on the impeachment inquiry, grouped by their positions and the political leanings of their districts.
They’re expected to vote Thursday on a resolution setting out the procedures for the inquiry going forward, including the process for public hearings, the release of transcripts from closed-door depositions, and the circumstances under which Republicans will be able to call witnesses or request documents. Many of the rules mirror those used during the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton and answer weeks of GOP criticism, though Republican leaders said it was too late to clean up a tainted inquiry.
Deep Blue Democrats - All in Favor
Democrats from Philadelphia and its more liberal suburbs say their constituents have long urged them to rein in the president. Unlike other Democrats, their greatest political risk is likely to come not from going too far, but from not acting aggressively enough.
“In the district I’m in? Every other word is, ‘We sent you here to get rid of him. You haven’t done it yet,'” said U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans of Philadelphia, one of the first Democrats from the area to call for impeachment.
In addition to Evans, these House Democrats have been full-throated supporters of the inquiry, even before the Ukraine revelations. They all represent solidly blue districts:
Brendan Boyle, Philadelphia
Madeleine Dean, Montgomery County: A first-term lawmaker on the Judiciary Committee, which could eventually cast the initial vote on any articles of impeachment
Donald Norcross, Camden County
Mary Gay Scanlon, Delaware County: A first-term member of the Judiciary Committee, she is also part of the House Rules Committee, which on Wednesday will cast the first votes on the resolution Thursday, before it goes to the full House.
Swing Democrats - most on board, eventually
Some of their Democratic neighbors were slower to embrace impeachment.
These Democrats represent much more competitive districts, and all won in 2018 by promising to bring a pragmatic, nonpartisan approach to Washington. Many of them are based in areas that have traditionally supported Republicans, and they would be on the front lines of any political backlash (though so far public polling has moved in favor of an impeachment inquiry).
Each has said revelations of the whistle-blower complaint against Trump and the White House’s summary of Trump’s call with Zelensky pushed them over the line to support the investigation, citing national security.
They continue to argue that they, and their constituents, are more focused on everyday issues that affect them at home. But on Thursday, they will go formally on the record about the ongoing inquiry and its procedure.
Chrissy Houlahan, Chester County: Houlahan was one of several swing district Democrats with national security backgrounds who helped set off the wave toward impeachment by quickly backing an inquiry after the Ukraine revelations. Her home county has traditionally leaned right, but few people in either party see her as vulnerable in 2020, given how her district has swung against Trump.
Andy Kim, Burlington County: Kim is only the second Democrat in decades to hold his competitive South Jersey seat, where Trump won by 6 percentage points in 2016. As a former national security official in the Obama administration, he said, he was moved by the security implications of Trump’s call with Ukraine. However, he has tried to turn attention to local issues such as flood insurance, South Jersey’s joint military base, and prescription drug costs.
Susan Wild, Lehigh County: Another Democrat who flipped a competitive district in 2018, Wild has drawn a GOP opponent since coming out in favor of an impeachment inquiry and is expected to face a challenging reelection campaign. She said the president was potentially abusing his office by withholding foreign aid for his political benefit.
The exceptions: One Democrat, one Republican
Two House members from the Philadelphia area oppose the impeachment inquiry: one Democrat who has broken with his party, and one Republican whose views largely echo the GOP party line. They represent two of the most competitive districts in the region.
Jeff Van Drew: He is one of fewer than 10 House Democrats to oppose the impeachment inquiry, arguing that it is too divisive and that voters want lawmakers to focus on getting things done. He has made the case so strongly that Trump even tweeted his thanks in late September. Van Drew, who is more conservative than most of his caucus, has thrived throughout his public career by winning over moderate voters, and represents a district that supported Trump by 51-46 in 2016. But he risks angering liberal Democratic voters with his stand. Van Drew said Tuesday that he will likely vote against the resolution on Thursday, telling reporters that questions around Trump and Ukraine should be examined, but not in the context of impeachment: “I think at the end of the day he will be impeached here in the House, and then it will go to the Senate and the Senate, I believe, will exonerate him, and then he will be the same president and the same candidate, except he’s been exonerated, and I think he’s going to talk about that.”
Brian Fitzpatrick, Bucks County: He has also relied on support from moderates and swing voters in his two terms in Congress, and in 2018 was one of the few suburban Republicans to survive a Democratic wave. The former FBI agent has walked a careful line on impeachment. He has said Trump’s conduct is “very serious,” but that any investigation should be done by law enforcement, which he argues is apolitical. He has joined fellow Republicans in accusing Democrats of running a partisan inquiry designed to damage Trump.