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Today (Oct 31) the house passed a resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry. I assume this was not a necessary step as the inquiry was underway before the resolution.

Does this resolution actually change how these proceedings will work?

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It actually changes quite a few things. None would be make or break, but they address talking points and bring formality. According to electoral-vote.com/'s summation:

  • It will give the investigation a bit more formality, and thus a stronger legal footing
  • It will allow many future hearings to be public, rather than behind closed doors
  • It authorizes the release of full deposition transcripts
  • It potentially opens the door for Donald Trump to send lawyers to the Hill to represent his interests
  • It potentially gives Republicans more opportunity to cross-examine witnesses
  • It allows GOP committee members to subpoena witnesses (but only with agreement from the Democratic committee chair, which is not likely to be forthcoming)

You may notice that the items are somewhat qualified with "potentially", "but", "many", etc. Thus I believe it's possible to argue that it changes little to nothing, but if it does change things, these are the ways in which it will.

  • 3
    @Burt: close: All dems minus 2 voted for, 0 GOP voted for, 1 indy voted for. – dandavis Oct 31 at 20:21
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    Contrast that with the Nixon vote which was 410-4! – SurpriseDog Oct 31 at 21:46
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    @SurpriseDog Yes, Nixon did comparatively less than Trump (cumulated) but got punished comparatively more so far. Times have changed. – Trilarion Nov 1 at 13:50
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    @Trilarion Nixon openly bragged about destroying political adversaries for the soul purpose of advancing his own career. Trump pushed for the investigation of an actual crime that just so happened to be committed by one of his political adversaries. Yeah I guess Trump is worse? – Jesse_b Nov 2 at 19:04
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    @Jesse_b: I guess you must define "actual crime" in a very interesting way . . . – ruakh Nov 3 at 0:32
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Correct, the committees were already performing investigations. The title of the bill, HR 660 even says "Directing certain committees to continue their ongoing investigations" (full text)

WaPo summarizes that this allows televised hearings:

The House’s resolution clears the way for nationally televised hearings as Democrats look to make their case to the American people that Trump should be impeached.

And politico points out the vote legitimizes the process a bit more:

Thursday’s vote — roughly along party lines — was partly intended to neutralize a frequent GOP attack line that Democrats hadn't formalized the probe.

Foxnews also has a good summary of what the vote means:

The resolution directs the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, Financial Services, Judiciary, and Ways and Means Committees to “continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump.”

The Democrats’ resolution specifies that Republicans in the minority on the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees will have the authority, with the concurrence of committee chairs in the majority, to subpoena witnesses and compel their testimony.

If the chair does not consent, the minority can appeal to the full committee. It is common in other proceedings for committee chairs to essentially have veto authority over subpoenas sought by ranking minority members.

The measure also sets the stage for proceedings to move into a public setting soon.

The resolution authorizes the Intelligence Committee to conduct an "open hearing or hearings" in which minority Republicans have equal time to question witnesses.

And, after that hearing is concluded, "to allow for a full evaluation of minority witness requests, the ranking minority member may submit to the chair, in writing, any requests for witness testimony relevant to the investigation described in the first section of this resolution within 72 hours after notice is given."

You can view roll call here:

+-------------+------+------+------------+
|             | yeas | nays | not voting |
+-------------+------+------+------------+
| democrat    |  231 |    2 |          1 |
| republican  |    0 |  194 |          3 |
| independent |    1 |    0 |          0 |
+-------------+------+------+------------+
| total       |  232 |  196 |          4 |
+-------------+------+------+------------+

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