WASHINGTON — The House voted Wednesday to kill the impeachment resolution against President Trump, avoiding a direct vote on whether to oust the president.

The vote was 332 to 95, with 95 Democrats voting to keep the resolution alive and 137 of their colleagues siding with Republicans. It was a surprising turn, just one day after the two parties bickered bitterly over House passage of a resolution condemning Trump’s racist remarks. Maine’s representatives split their votes, with Jared Golden voting in favor of killing the impeachment resolution and Chellie Pingree voting to keep it alive.

Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, had put Democratic leaders in a bind Tuesday night by filing articles of impeachment accusing Trump of committing high crimes and misdemeanors. His resolution, which cited Trump’s racist comments singling out four minority congresswomen, was privileged, requiring that the House act within two days.

“It’s time for us to deal with his bigotry. This president has demonstrated that he’s willing to yell fire in a crowded theater, and we have seen what can happen to people when bigotry is allowed to have a free rein,” Green told reporters Wednesday before the vote. “We all ought to go on record. We all ought to let the world know where we stand when we have a bigot in the White House.”

Pelosi, who has been reluctant to launch an impeachment inquiry, backed a procedural vote to table, or effectively kill, the resolution, avoiding a direct vote on the impeachment articles. Republicans supported Pelosi’s effort, receiving the sign-off from the White House, according a Republican congressional aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private talks.

“With all the respect in the world for Mr. Green … we have six committees who are working on following the facts in terms of any abuse of power, obstruction of justice and the rest that the president may have engaged in,” Pelosi told reporters when asked about Green’s efforts. “That is the serious path that we are on — not that Mr. Green is not serious, but we will deal with that on the floor.”

Any vote was politically fraught for Democrats as the party’s liberal base clamors for Trump’s impeachment, and several 2020 presidential candidates call on the House to move swiftly to force him out of office. So far, 86 House members favor launching an impeachment inquiry, though several were reluctant to endorse Green’s effort.

Al Green

Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, has introduced a resolution in the House to impeach President Trump. Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

Liberal groups pressured Pelosi to allow a direct vote on the impeachment articles.

CREDO Action, a group with 5 million activists, said in a statement that the House needed to begin proceedings “immediately” because “Trump is a racist who has repeatedly abused the powers of the presidency to harm black and brown communities and to make a quick buck for billionaires off the backs of working families.”

The vote split Democrats with 137 voting to effectively kill the resolution and 95 opposing the move.

Rather than tabling the resolution, several House Judiciary Committee Democrats tried to convince Pelosi and other leaders to refer the articles of impeachment to their panel. Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., a private supporter of impeachment, argued that is how such matters are historically handled, but was rebuffed, according to congressional officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal talks.

“If you are of conscience and see what is happening … one would have to vote to refer, and not to table,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, a Judiciary panel member.

But Democratic leaders were wary of headlines suggesting that Democrats are moving toward trying to oust Trump and worry that “referring” to committee may be spun by Republicans as a step in that direction. Indeed, even before the vote, Republicans were relishing the possibility of using the vote against their political opponents, with the office of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., citing the vote in a news release and asking: “How many House Democrats support impeachment?”

In December 2017, when Green forced a vote on impeachment articles, 126 Democrats backed tabling while only 58 Democrats fought for the resolution’s consideration. In January 2018, when Green did it again, 121 Democrats voted to table while 66 Democrats rejected that move.

That’s one of the reasons why Pelosi needs the help of Republicans to sideline the resolution, assistance that oddly comes a day after one of the most intense partisan fights on the House floor.

In a series of tweets and remarks, Trump targeted the self-described “Squad” — Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Trump told the four minority congresswomen to “go back” to their home countries — though all are U.S. citizens and three were born in the U.S.

Pelosi sought to swiftly deal with the uproar as the House voted Tuesday for a resolution condemning those racist comments. Some Democrats hoped the resolution would be harsher on Trump, Pelosi said — even as Republicans accused Democrats of harassing the president and breaking rules of House decorum.

“You have no idea the provisions that some people wanted to have in that resolution,” Pelosi said Wednesday. “This was as benign – it condemned the words of the president – not the president … We weren’t saying that he was racist, we were saying that the words he used were racist.”

Some Democrats find Green’s timing peculiar, not only coming a day after the condemnation vote but ahead of a high-stakes hearing. Former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is scheduled to testify next week before two House committees on his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump obstructed justice, a session that lawmakers have been seeking for months.

House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., said Wednesday that the House is not ready to debate whether to impeach Trump.

“We may not ever be, but we aren’t yet,” he said.

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