The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives approved a resolution on Thursday to set the rules for public hearings in the impeachment inquiry of US President Donald Trump.
The resolution, approved by a 232-196 vote, authorises House committees to move forward with formal, public hearings.
The House is investigating whether Trump abused the powers of his office by orchestrating a pressure campaign on Ukraine for domestic, personal political gain.
The House vote was put forward by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, after a whistle-blower complaint, as well as months of investigative hearings by six House committees targeting the president’s conduct in office and private business dealings.
“This is not any cause for any glee or comfort,” Pelosi said before Thursday’s vote.
She urged fellow members of Congress “to protect the Constitution of the United States. What is at stake in all of this is nothing less than our democracy.”
Two Democrats broke party ranks to vote “no” on Thursday, and one former Republican, now an independent, voted “yes”.
The two Democrats were Collin Peterson from Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey. Trump won Peterson’s district by 30 percentage points in 2016. Van Drew’s district went for Trump by 4.6 points in 2016, according to Ballotpedia.
The independent was Justin Amash, who announced his support for the impeachment in July after reading the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
The eight-page resolution provides for public impeachment hearings by the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. Consulting lawyers for the committees would conduct the questioning of witnesses for extended periods of time instead of five-minute rounds alternating between politicians.