Sunday, October 06, 2019

A Couple of Brief Notes on the "Why Hasn't There Been a Vote Yet? Gotcha!" Impeachment Stuff

I'm seeing, in various places, a claim (implicit or explicit) and a supposed "gotcha" question about impeachment.

The claim: The House has to vote to "open an impeachment inquiry" in order to have one.

That claim is incorrect.

Article I, Section 5 of the US Constitution specifies that "Each House [of Congress] may determine the rules of its proceedings."

There's neither any constitutional provision, nor any statute, nor any House rule requiring a vote of the House to "open an impeachment inquiry." It's been done before, but as a practical matter if the Speaker of the House announces an impeachment inquiry and the relevant committees (all of them controlled by, and chaired by, the Speaker's party) start, um, inquiring,  the inquiry is a fact.

The only way I can see around that is if a majority of the House supported some kind of parliamentary appeal to require a vote to make it official.

The supposed "gotcha" question relates to congressional votes either of the "open an inquiry" sort or of the "the SOB is hereby impeached" sort, and amounts to "well, if Pelosi has the votes, why haven't the votes been taken yet?

Pelosi announced the "inquiry" on September 24.  Congress has only been in session for three days since then, and won't be back until October 15. There are committees doing stuff, but the House as a whole has "district work periods" (i.e. "go home and campaign") until October 12, plus weekends and a federal holiday on October 14.

They aren't voting on anything right now because they're not there to vote on anything. And presumably there's at least some lag time between announcement of an "inquiry" and the production of actual articles of impeachment to vote on.

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