Democracy Reform Task Force Chair Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today voted in support of H.Res. 660, a measure to advance into the next phase of the U.S. House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry.
For the last several weeks, three House investigative committees – including the Committee on Oversight and Reform, where Congressman Sarbanes serves – have been engaged in the opening phases of an impeachment investigation, working deliberately and expeditiously to collect significant, credible evidence from multiple sources about President Donald J. Trump’s misconduct. H.Res. 660 affirms the ongoing investigation and sets a path forward for the inquiry’s public stage, where the American people will hear directly from the witnesses themselves.
“In solemn and serious fashion, the House of Representatives has taken the necessary steps to uphold our oath of office, obey the Constitution and defend our democracy,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “For several weeks, we have heard from credible witnesses, collected key evidence and followed the facts. The evidence uncovered to date – including public admissions by the President himself, the White House call transcript, text messages between Trump Administration officials and career diplomats, testimony taken by the House investigative committees and the acknowledgement of a quid pro quo by the President’s Chief of Staff, among many other documents and pieces of information – tell the story of a President who abused his power and betrayed the American people by exploiting governmental authority to seek illicit foreign assistance in the 2020 election and help the President’s reelection campaign. Democrats are going to hold the President accountable to the American people – because no one is above the law. That’s what this impeachment investigation is about.”
Congressman Sarbanes continued: “At the same time, we’re also going to hold our political system accountable, because people know the system – as it currently exists – isn’t working for them. That’s why House Democrats made H.R. 1, the For the People Act, our first order of business this year. H.R. 1 is a game-changing suite of reforms – reforms that Americans of all political stripes crave – to clean up corruption in Washington, expose secret foreign money in our politics, crack down on lobbyists, strengthen election security, protect the right to vote and return power back to the American people with clean, citizen-owned elections.”
Congressman Sarbanes concluded: “Lastly, House Democrats will continue holding ourselves accountable to the American people by making sure that we address their concerns and make progress on the priorities they care about – whether it’s lowering prescription drug costs, increasing pay checks, reducing gun violence or acting swiftly to tackle the climate crisis. That’s what Americans deserve.”
Key provisions of the H.Res. 660 include:
- Reaffirming the ongoing impeachment inquiry. The resolution directs the three House investigative committees engaged in the impeachment inquiry to continue their important work following the facts and seeking the truth for the American people.
- Ensures transparency. The resolution authorizes the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to make transcripts of its depositions public, with appropriate redactions for classified or other sensitive information. The resolution also lays out procedures for all investigative committees to transmit their evidence to the Judiciary Committee for use in its impeachment proceedings.
- Enables effective public hearings. The resolution permits staff counsels to fully follow their lines of inquiry and get the facts to the American people by allowing 45 minutes of witness questioning for both Democrats and Republicans. This approach builds on the precedent set by Republicans for the questioning of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr in 1998. The resolution also continues the precedent of giving the minority the same rights to question witnesses – rights that Republicans have enjoyed at every step of the inquiry thus far.
- Provides the President opportunities to participate. The resolution establishes opportunities for the President or his counsel to participate in impeachment proceedings held by the Judiciary Committee. It allows the President or his counsel to present their case and respond to evidence, submit written requests for additional testimony or other evidence, attend hearings, raise an objection to testimony given and cross-examine witnesses. However, if the President unlawfully refuses to cooperate with Congressional requests, the resolution allows the Judiciary Chair to impose appropriate remedies, including denying specific requests by the President or his counsel.
- Directs the Judiciary Committee to review the evidence and, if necessary, report Articles of Impeachment to the House. Following the precedent set by every modern impeachment inquiry, the Judiciary Committee will decide whether Articles shall be reported to the House.