WASHINGTON — Progressive activists are pushing Democrats to cancel an upcoming congressional break after the House began a formalized impeachment inquiry this week.
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, leaders from 15 progressive groups, led by Stand Up America and By the People, said they believe it is irresponsible for members to go home in early October for the planned two-week recess. (The break is scheduled to give members time to go home for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.)
“The President of the United States is committing impeachable offenses in plain sight and continues to betray his oath of office. Every day that Donald Trump remains in office is another day he undermines our democracy, threatens our national security, and profits off of the presidency,” the letter, which was shared with BuzzFeed News, reads.
The House is betraying its duty to hold the president accountable by going home for two weeks, the groups argue.
“The American people cannot afford to wait for Donald Trump to be impeached, and Congress cannot slow walk this process,” the letter states. “[We] respectfully demand that House leadership cancel the upcoming two-week congressional recess and immediately get to work impeaching this lawless president. In place of this recess, we urge you to begin an aggressive hearing schedule, swiftly draft articles of impeachment, and vote to impeach Trump this fall.”
The letter from the groups comes after a coalition — including Stand Up America, Indivisible, MoveOn, and Need to Impeach — doggedly pushed Democratic members on impeachment during the recent August recess, showing up at town halls, making calls, and confronting representatives in their districts, hoping to convince more members to support an inquiry.
The effort seems to have worked. Less than half of the caucus members supported an inquiry before the August break, and more than two-thirds do now. They finally have House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on their side too, though the impeachment calls picked up in the last week in the wake of the Trump–Ukraine story.
“We spent all summer getting the shit kicked out of us back home,” one unnamed Democrat told the Intercept on Tuesday.
Now that leadership is on board, activists want them to get to work.
“We're glad Speaker Pelosi finally said out loud what a majority of the Democratic Caucus and constituents have been saying for months: Donald Trump has betrayed his oath of office, betrayed our national security, and betrayed the integrity of our elections,” Leah Greenberg, co–executive director of Indivisible, said in a statement Tuesday. “Now, we need to see her words backed up with action: cancel recess, and get to a vote on articles of impeachment as soon as humanly possible. Every day that Trump is president is another day our democracy is broken and our national security is at risk. The activists who built the blue wave and put Democrats in charge expect them to do the right thing, and lead.”
Despite the push from activists, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters Wednesday morning before the letter was sent that there are no plans to cancel the October recess.
“We want to pursue this as quickly as we can — responsibly pursue it,” he said of impeachment. “I expect the committees to be doing a lot of work … in the coming weeks. I don’t expect to cancel the break, and one reason [why is because] I think it’s very important members go home to their constituents and explain what they’re thinking. … This is a matter of grave importance, and the American people need to understand.”
In addition to By the People and Stand Up America, 13 other groups signed on to the letter, including Indivisible, Need to Impeach, and the Women's March.
“Members of Congress have heard from their constituents about this issue,” Sean Eldridge, the founder and president of Stand Up America, said in an interview with BuzzFeed News on Wednesday. “We made it very clear that the American people want Donald Trump to be held accountable … and I think we can make sure the American people hear from them while they’re in Washington, DC, and getting to work.”