House Dems Ramp Up Pressure For Independent Russia Investigation

Top House Democrats, from left, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., and Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, say they want an investigation into President Donald Trump's relationship with Russia, including when Trump learned that his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had discussed U.S. sanctions with a Russian diplomat, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017.    (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

House Democrats are planning to use a special procedural tool this week to force the GOP majority to vote on a bill to establish an outside, independent commission to investigate President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

The use of the discharge petition, which requires only a simply majority to pass, can enable a minority party to force a vote on a bill that the majority is blocking from the floor. But the move is unlikely to succeed, because Democrats would need more than a dozen Republicans to join them in order to secure such a vote against leadership’s wishes. But it is one of several procedural tools Democrats are using to call attention to Republicans’ muted response to President Donald Trump’s shocking decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.

The bill, co-sponsored by Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) has languished in committee since it was introduced last December. It gained new life last week, when Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) backed the call for an independent commission following Comey’s ouster .

Amash is one of just two Republicans co-sponsoring the bill, along with Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC). Nearly 200 Democrats have signed on.

In announcing the attempt to move the bill Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote: “The question remains: what do the Russians have on President Trump financially, politically and personally that he and Republicans in Congress want to hide?”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.

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