The two Colorado congressmen who sit on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines Friday morning as the panel approved two articles of impeachment charging President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette, voted for both articles, and U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Windsor, voted against both in a quick session that capped an often contentious debate over an impeachment that Democrats say is necessary to preserve the rule of law and constitutional separation of powers, while Republicans dismiss the proceedings as a partisan "sham."
"We are all Americans, and we all revere the constitution that Congress is working so hard to uphold," Neguse said in a tweet following the vote.
"We must hold this administration accountable because it is what our constitution requires of us. We must #DefendOurDemocracy. And we will."
Buck, who doubles as the chairman of the Colorado GOP, reiterated arguments he's been making since before the impeachment articles were unveiled last week.
“Today’s partisan vote in the Judiciary Committee will have lasting negative consequences for the American government," he said in a statement after casting his vote. "I did not support impeaching President Trump because I do not believe his actions rise to the level of an impeachable offense.”
The committee's vote came as no surprise, with the 23 Democrats voting to send the measures to the full, Democratic-controlled House, and all 17 Republicans voting no. The House is expected to approve the charges next week, but the Republican-controlled Senate appears poised to acquit the president after a January trial.
Neguse and Buck declared their positions when the committee convened Wednesday night to begin considering the articles, and neither wavered Thursday through more than 14 hours of sometimes tense exchanges between committee members that lasted late into the night.
“With much respect to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, it is difficult to follow some of these arguments,” Neguse said during Thursday's session. “I’ve heard very little in the way of any substantive defenses of the president’s conduct, but, instead, focus again on farcical process arguments, in my view."
Neguse tore into Republican complaints about the "closed-door" testimony from witnesses prior to the weeks of public hearings held by the Intelligence and Judiciary committees starting nearly a month ago.
Republicans on three committees — including Buck — were able to attend those hearings, and transcripts were made public, Neguse said. He also refuted assertions by Republicans about the kind of witnesses that testified during the Judiciary Committee's hearings that preceded impeachment action against Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon.
Neguse spelled out why he supports the second article of impeachment, which charges Trump with obstructing Congress in its impeachment inquiry.
"Obstruction of Congress by this president has meant defiance of lawfully issued subpoenas by the U.S. House," he said. "It has meant impeding the ability of the House to perform its constitutional duties. It has been total. It has been absolute. It has been categorical."
Far from being an impeachable offense, Buck said later during Thursday's debate, the obstruction charge amounts to what Coloradans would call "a campaign promise."
"When Congress has a 14% approval rating, it's somewhere between being as popular as shingles and an all-expense-paid trip to North Korea," Buck said, noting that the national debt tops $22 trillion and this year's deficit is over $1 trillion.
"We were sent here to obstruct this Congress," he said. "We were sent here to make sure that this power of the purse is actually exercised around this place. We were sent here to make sure that we didn't nationalize and ruin health care. We were sent here to secure the border and to do our very best to prohibit sanctuary cities in this country. We were sent here to stop this body from ignoring state's rights."
Said Buck: "If you issue an article of impeachment for obstructing Congress, you're going to make the president more popular, not less popular. Congress is an embarrassment. This president is upholding his campaign promises," he said, listing tax cuts and reduced regulations, low unemployment and new trade deals.
"I think we should be talking about how we support this president, how we support this agenda, and not how we undermine the positive direction that we are going in this country," Buck said.