House Republicans railed against their Democratic colleagues' impeachment resolution Wednesday as the Rules Committee readied the measure for a full floor vote, calling it a "fishing expedition" that restricts GOP members' input and infringes on the due process rights of President Donald Trump.
Republican members introduced a barrage of dead-on-arrival amendments during the committee markup of the measure, each one failing along party lines. The proposed changes attempted in part to restrict the potential scope of the impeachment inquiry as Democrats move toward the public-facing phase of the probe. The committee is comprised of nine Democrats and four Republicans.
The Democrat-controlled House is expected to vote on the resolution on Thursday.
Republicans excoriated their Democratic counterparts for not making the process more public and transparent, for not allowing GOP members to have greater authority, and for letting other committees, such as the House Ways and Means and House Financial Services panels, have a role. The House has typically relied on the Judiciary Committee to handle impeachment investigations and mark up articles of impeachment against the president.
"I think this is a sad day for the Rules Committee and for the institution of the House of Representatives," said ranking member Tom Cole, R-Okla. "We're meeting here today to set forth a process for impeaching a president of the United States. In my view, it's not a fair process, it's not an open process, it's certainly not been a transparent process. It's been limited and closed, and frankly I think we're moving toward a preordained result."
Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, introduced three amendments to the resolution to restrict the roles of other committees involved in the process and to explain the scope of their investigations.
"To me, it is unclear why these two committees are included in the list of committees directed to continue the ongoing impeachment investigations, because the only reason for them is to access President Trump's personal business papers and his IRS papers," he said. "It's really nothing more than a fishing expedition to see if they can't uncover something that might be useful to them should the whistleblower complaint fail, which I believe it will."
Democrats, however, stressed that the process is not entirely dissimilar to past impeachment inquiries and that the resolution has afforded Republicans a role in line with those previous inquiries.
"If it's a fishing expedition, there's a lot of fish and might even be some whales out in the water," Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said.
Raskin called out Republicans for their messaging on impeachment over the past several weeks since the inquiry was announced.
"I have to admit I'm a little bit baffled because, from our colleagues across the aisle for the last several weeks, all we've heard is, 'You are in a process, but you haven't had a vote,'" Raskin said. "Well, now we're going to have a vote, then we hear, 'Well, we want open hearings.' This is a process for open hearings. That's precisely what we're doing, and now we're getting the objection, 'You could have done this without a vote.'"
Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said that he has been "horrified" by the White House's lack of cooperation on the various subpoenas and requests for testimony and documents, adding that moving forward with the resolution is a form of accountability.
"Some people call it a fishing expedition," he said. "Others call it congressional oversight."
"The bottom line is we want to get to the truth, and I think what we are seeing here are attempts to try to find ways to be able to delay us getting to the truth or actually blocking us from getting to the truth," McGovern said. "This is a hearing on trying to get a process in place that I think is transparent, that has dignity and respects this institution. I think that's what we are doing."