House Democrats who won Republican districts in 2018 are pushing back on the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment investigation effort, arguing that pursuing impeachment is a mistake and that they would vote against it.
The resistance from Democrats in Republican-leaning districts comes as impeachment advocates hailed Thursday's Judiciary Committee's vote to formalize the rules of its investigation, and it helps explain why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has avoided labeling the committee's probe as an impeachment inquiry.
"The truth is impeachment will only tear our country further apart and we will see no progress on the enormous challenges we face as a nation," Rep. Max Rose, a New York Democrat, wrote Friday in an op-ed in the Staten Island Advance. "Impeachment will not fix our roads and bridges or lower the costs of drugs. Impeachment will not keep our kids safe from gun violence or end the opioid epidemic."
The question of impeachment has swirled around House Democrats since they returned to Washington this week from a six-week recess, with the committee's vote prompting confusion and frustration over the question of whether the committee was conducting an impeachment inquiry.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, also a Democrat from New York, and other committee members said the panel was doing just that, but Pelosi and other Democratic leaders resisted labeling the investigation as more than the oversight that Democrats have been conducting since they took control of the House in January.
The rhetorical divisions represented the larger split among Democrats on whether it is wise to pursue impeachment ahead of the 2020 election. While liberal Democrats are pushing for impeachment proceedings, frontline Democrats remain Rose are opposed to such efforts.
There are 135 House Democrats who have publicly supported an impeachment inquiry, according to CNN's tally. A CNN analysis shows those Democrats represent districts won by Hillary Clinton by an average of 35 points, while the districts of those who have not come out for an impeachment inquiry shrinks to a margin of just 18 points.
Freshmen Democrats on both sides of the impeachment inquiry question heard a range of opinions about the issue from their constituents while they were back in their districts during the August recess.
Judiciary Committee Democrats say they are not yet going forward with impeachment, and the steps they are taking in the investigation are necessary to ultimately decide whether to introduce articles against the President.
But the push in the Judiciary Committee this week has also sparked a more public voice of caution from those Democrats opposed to impeachment.
Rep. Anthony Brindisi, a New York Democrat who like Rose won a Republican-held seat in predicted the House did not have the votes for it yet.
"I don't think that if you are going to put articles of impeachment on the floor today you can get to 218 votes. And I think that the American people aren't there on the issue of impeachment," Brindisi said. "What they are there on is lowering drug costs, fixing our healthcare system, rebuilding our nation's infrastructure. These are the issues we should be focusing on."
"I would vote no on impeachment unless there's compelling evidence that comes out over the next couple months my vote is no," Brindisi added.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a freshman New Jersey Democrat, also said she didn't think the House should be moving on impeachment.
"I have been supporting the committee's jurisdiction, performing their oversight duties. As I've said, I don't think we've made the case to the American people that we need to yet," Sherrill said.
Pelosi has supported the Judiciary Committee's efforts, including court filings that state they are investigating in order to decide impeachment, but she has remained opposed to impeachment, arguing the public is not yet there.
At her weekly news conference Thursday, Pelosi bristled at reporters' questions about whether the committee was conducting an impeachment inquiry, arguing the public wants the House to proceed carefully.
"They understand that impeachment is a very divisive measure, but if we have to go there, we'll have to go there," Pelosi said. "But we can't go there unless we have the facts, and we will follow the facts, and we will follow the obstruction that the President is making -- getting the facts, and make our decision when we're ready."