© 2021 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Government, Politics & Issues

Most Missouri And Illinois Lawmakers Vote Along Partisan Lines On Impeaching Trump

President Donald Trump arrives at St. Louis Lambert International Airport to attend a fundraiser for GOP U.S. Senate hopeful Josh Hawley in 2018. On Wednesday, Trump became the first president in history to be impeached twice.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
President Donald Trump arrives at St. Louis Lambert International Airport to attend a fundraiser for GOP U.S. Senate hopeful Josh Hawley in 2018. On Wednesday, Trump became the first president in history to be impeached twice.

Most Missouri and Illinois lawmakers in the U.S. House split along partisan lines on whether to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection last Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol.

It’s a move that Missouri’s two Democrats contended was an appropriate response to Trump’s actions, while Republicans from Illinois and Missouri said it was unnecessary because the GOP chief executive is leaving office next week anyway.

The only Republican exception was Rep. Adam Kinzinger of northern Illinois who voted for impeachment. He has been an outspoken critic of Trump.

The House voted 232-197 Wednesday to impeach Trump, a historic decision. No president has ever been impeached twice.

Rep. Cori Bush, D-St. Louis County, said that if “we fail to remove a white supremacist president who incited a white supremacist insurrection, it’s communities like Missouri’s 1st District that suffer the most.”

“The 117th Congress must understand that we have a mandate to legislate in defense of Black lives,” Bush said. “The first step in that process is to root out white supremacy, starting with impeaching the white supremacist-in-chief.”

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, said that Trump’s role in provoking the violence at the Capitol was so egregious, it warranted courage from his colleagues.

“It would be an error to assume that men and women can be courageous every day,” Cleaver said. “It would be unfair to anticipate that I or any member of this body could be a lion every day. But on this day, lions are required.”

Republicans reject impeachment

Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, a Taylorville Republican who voted to uphold President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, pushed instead for a commission that would investigate the attack on the Capitol last week.

“Republicans and Democrats need to work together,” Davis said. “We must be united to prevent any attacks from happening in the future. And we must protect this institution not just for us, for the American people.”

Jason Smith
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum
U.S. Rep. Jason Smith of Salem was one of numerous Missouri and Illinois Republicans who voted against impeachment.

Metro East Republican Reps. Mike Bost and Mary Miller also voted against impeachment.

Missouri Rep. Jason Smith echoed many of his GOP colleagues when he said that impeachment was a divisive and unnecessary step when Biden is going to be sworn into office next week.

“This is a reckless impeachment,” said Smith, R-Salem. “This will only bring up the hate and fire more than ever before.”

And Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, said in a statement that “non-binding resolutions demanding the inappropriate use of the 25th Amendment and rushed impeachment proceedings before law enforcement and intelligence agencies can even complete investigations are the exact opposite of what our country needs and deserves.”

Rep. Sam Graves, a Tarkio Republican who represents northeast Missouri, said: “Politically motivated impeachment only further divides a country in need of healing. We shouldn’t be wasting millions of tax dollars on a last-minute snap impeachment that won’t even be finished before President Trump leaves office."

Wagner votes ‘no’

In some respects, the only real question mark on Wednesday was whether Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, was going to vote for impeachment — especially since, unlike some of her Missouri Republican colleagues, she voted to uphold Biden’s victory and condemned Trump for inciting the violent attack on the Capitol.

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner waits outside her polling site to vote early Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 at Ballwin Golf Course. She defeated Democratic 2nd Congressional District candidate Jill Schupp.
File photo / Theo R. Welling
U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner waits outside her polling site to vote for her re-election in November at Ballwin Golf Course. Wagner voted against impeaching Trump on Wednesday.

Wagner voted against impeachment. In a statement, she said, “President Trump’s statements during and in the immediate aftermath of last week’s assault on democracy were antithetical to the leadership our nation desperately needed in a time of crisis.”

But she said she supported censure, rather than impeachment, adding impeachment “should only be taken after the appropriate investigations and a complete airing of the facts so our vote can be fully informed.”

“America needs strong leadership right now,” Wagner said. “With so little time left this term, specifically with regard to the Senate impeachment process, I fully agree with President-elect Joe Biden when he stated the ‘quickest way’ for the president to be out of office will be to wait for January 20th when the president-elect is sworn in.”

Wagner went on to say that while censure would have passed both chambers of Congress, “unfortunately Speaker Pelosi has chosen further divisive actions that stand no chance of being implemented and do nothing to hold the president accountable.”

“Our nation needs to heal and come together, not retreat further into partisan corners,” Wagner said.

Whether Trump gets kicked out of office before Biden is sworn in is up to the Senate. Removal doesn’t seem likely, especially since the Senate won’t be in session again until Jan. 19 — the day before Biden takes the oath of office.

At least two-thirds of the Senate needs to vote in favor of removing Trump from office in order to briefly make Vice President Mike Pence president.

Correction: An earlier version of this story omitted Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger voting for impeachment.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.