ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
The House Judiciary Committee finished a long and very contentious markup this morning. It approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump - that the president abused his power and obstructed Congress. The full House votes next week.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Just a reminder - all this stems from an investigation that the president conditioned military aid in exchange for a foreign leader investigating a political rival. Now lawmakers are considering a vote that could be one their constituents remember at the ballot box in 2020. NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales joins us in the studio.
CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Hi there.
CORNISH: The Judiciary Committee approved these articles. What happens next?
GRISALES: Well, it was a party line vote for the panel after a very partisan debate, and we expect more of the same next week. The next stop for the articles is the House Rules Committee, which on Tuesday will set the parameters for the House floor debate. This process allows any member of the House to speak before the committee and could go on for hours. But there won't be any significant change to the articles before these head to the floor.
Then on Wednesday, the full House is expected to begin its debate. We expect to see fiery arguments on both sides of the aisle, and it remains to be seen in terms of any potential defections that Democrats could see.
CORNISH: How united are House Democrats heading into next week's votes? I mean, people are already speculating about defections.
GRISALES: They are largely united, but there are some facing more pressure than others. Remember - Democrats won the House in 2018 because they picked up seats in districts that Trump won. I've spent the last few days talking to a lot of these members from these moderate districts facing this political pressure. Some have already come out and said, despite the political risk, they will vote yes because they must defend the constitution. For example, freshman Democrat Susan Wild of Pennsylvania and Elaine Luria of Virginia have both stepped down in recent days and already said they will vote yes when this impeachment vote is before them next week.
Others are taking a wait-and-see approach. I spoke to freshman Chrissy Houlahan. She's a veteran Air Force officer. She's on the verge of making a decision, but here's what she's considering as she reviews evidence in the inquiry.
CHRISSY HOULAHAN: The consistency of the stories that I've heard from all of the people who have willingly stepped forward to talk about this situation has been most striking to me.
GRISALES: So although many of these folks are taking their time to deliberate, we're still expecting the vast majority of them to vote yes on impeachment.
CORNISH: What about these moderate Democrats in terms of their districts? Are they worried that it could hurt them in the next election?
GRISALES: Leaders are telling these members impeachment is a vote of conscience, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she's leaving it up to members to make their own decisions. And these members are getting hit on all sides, inundated with phone calls from voters and even Republicans hoping to win more Democratic defections. So some of these members have said they will take the weekend to go over the evidence from the House inquiry and meet with constituents, reread transcripts and articles of impeachment ahead of announcing their plan.
Here's freshman Democrat Mikey Cheryl. She's a veteran Navy helicopter pilot who's taking that extra time to decide.
MIKIE SHERRILL: I think what people expect from me is to use my experience as a veteran, as a federal prosecutor, even as a mother, and somebody who cares deeply about our democracy, to make decisions that I think will be in the best interests of our country and of New Jersey. And that's what I've tried to do.
GRISALES: Meanwhile, we expect Republicans to stick together, and they are guaranteeing no defections. But these moderate Democrats will be the ones to watch. It's a small group, but they will draw intense interest the day of this historic vote.
CORNISH: Looking forward to the Senate, what can we expect there?
GRISALES: Well, if articles are indeed approved in the House, the next step is a trial in the Senate. Already, Republicans there have told us that they want a short, perhaps two-week trial. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Fox last night he's working closely with the president and the White House to plot out a potential trial. The president, however, said earlier today he's listening to these Republicans, but left the door open to a longer trial with a long list of witnesses.
CORNISH: That's NPR's congressional reporter Claudia Grisales.
Thanks so much.
GRISALES: Thanks for having me.
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