House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Wednesday that Democrats aren’t going to change course on impeachment even though public opinion has not shifted notably since the public hearings began.
Polling shows that Americans’ views on impeachment hardly budged through most of last month despite a whirlwind series of public hearings with witnesses detailing aspects of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
Almost half of U.S. adults support impeachment in most polls, but most Americans are largely entrenched along party lines.
Hoyer maintained that the impeachment inquiry into whether Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate his political opponents is a matter of “conscience,” even if voters remain divided.
“This is not driven by polls. This is driven by our responsibility,” Hoyer told reporters in the Capitol.
“I think they’re going to vote what they think is their duty to the Constitution,” he said of lawmakers.
Democratic leaders insisted for much of this year that there needed to be bipartisan public support in order for impeachment to be successful, but Republicans have held firm against impeachment. Surveys indicate that GOP voters aren’t wavering on whether Trump should be impeached.
Americans’ views have largely been unchanged since the impeachment inquiry began in late September. CNN/SSRS polling in both October and November found that 50 percent of Americans supported impeaching Trump, with the president’s approval rating relatively unchanged.
An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll in November found that 65 percent of Americans said they couldn’t envision changing their minds about impeachment. The survey also found that Democrats — who already overwhelmingly back impeachment — are following the proceedings the more closely compared to Republicans and independents.
Democrats are nevertheless trying to keep the impeachment process moving as quickly as possible with their inquiry, and a potential vote on articles of impeachment could come before Christmas. Centrist Democrats in competitive districts are particularly eager to ensure the process doesn’t drag on much longer.
Hoyer didn’t commit to taking up articles of impeachment this month but suggested that it is possible, despite a packed legislative agenda on bills to fund the government, authorize national defense programs and reducing prescription drug prices.
“I think there’s time to do it before the end of the year. But I’m not saying that we’re going to do it by the end of the year,” Hoyer said. “If the Judiciary Committee comes forward with recommendations, I think there’s time to do it.”