Since I joined the U.S. House of Representatives in January, I’ve done my best to steer clear of the political circus we see on a daily basis in Washington. Instead I’ve worked successfully with my colleagues to pass legislation preventing child abuse and making it easier for Americans to save for school and retirement. I’ve been laser focused on passing the United States Mexico and Canada Trade Agreement, moving forward welfare reform, and implementing the 2018 Farm Bill.
But I just have to say — the impeachment process unfolding in the House over the last several weeks should cause pause for all members of Congress and the American people.
Some of my colleagues are for impeachment and others of us are opposed, but we should all admit that by its very nature, impeachment is emotional, taxing and divisive.
Let’s remember — some are seeking to remove our duly elected president from office. That is no small thing. This is changing the trajectory of American history. Given how contentious and how important this proceeding is, members of Congress have a special obligation to play by the rules. We need a process that is open, sound, and fair. Congress is failing at that special obligation.
First, the Speaker has launched impeachment without a vote of the legislative body. This is unprecedented. Members have been denied their authority, their voice, and their opportunity to be on the record. Let us be clear: under the Constitution, the authority to launch impeachment rests with the U.S. House of Representatives, not with the Speaker of the House or the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
Second, this proceeding has not been open and transparent. Instead, members have been denied access to witness testimony, there is no live feed or TV coverage like we’ve seen during past impeachment proceedings, and Republicans are being removed from committee hearings. The result is that Americans and most members of Congress are not getting all the facts.
Finally, this proceeding has not been fair. In the past, presidents have been allowed to have legal counsel present. Counsel had an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses. The accused had an opportunity to examine the evidence and prepare a defense rather than battle secondhand accounts of closed-door testimony selectively leaked to the media.
Two hundred and twenty-eight of my colleagues have announced they are ready to impeach the president even though the evidence hasn’t been fully gathered yet, and in any case, we haven’t been allowed to review it. How in the world is that fair?
Elections matter. Transparency matters. Due process matters. Faith in our Constitution and institutions matter. As I said, Congress should live up to its special obligation. Our country deserves nothing less.