House clears way for impeachment debate as freshman GOP lawmaker goes off on both sides for divisive rhetoric

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The Democrat-controlled House on Wednesday paved the way for an unprecedented move to impeach a sitting president twice, as lawmakers from both sides traded accusations regarding last week’s violence at the U.S. Capitol Building.

In a two-minute floor address, freshman GOP Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) blamed colleagues on both sides for providing oxygen to violence and rioting, which began in earnest last year following the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Mace, in her first remarks to the chamber, came as lawmakers discussed the impeachment and rules ahead of a vote that is likely to come later Wednesday or Thursday.

Democrats and some Republicans believe that President Donald Trump’s comments to supporters during a rally last week incited some of them to storm the U.S. Capitol Building in an act of “insurrection.”

Mace laid some of the blame for the attack on Trump but also additional members of Congress who she believes have helped to stoke violence last summer and before.

“I believe we need to hold the president accountable,” Mace said. “I hold him accountable for the events that transpired, for the attack on our Capitol last Wednesday. I also believe that we need to hold accountable every single person, even members of Congress if they contributed to the violence that transpired here.”

She then called on all members in both parties to be held accountable for words and actions while working to help bridge the yawning political, social, and cultural divide in the country.

“Today I’m asking my colleagues to remember the words of the legendary, the great leader in this country Dr. Martin Luther King, who once said, ‘The time is always right to do what is right.’ And if we’re serious about healing the divisions in this country, Republicans and Democrats need to acknowledge this is not the first day of violence we’ve seen,” said Mace. “We’ve seen violence across our country for the last nine months.”

Earlier, Mace criticized Democrats’ rush to impeach Trump, who is slated to leave office in a week with the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. Mace said she is concerned that constitutional processes are not being followed, noting that there have been no hearings conducted by congressional panels into the charges.

“The U.S. House of Representatives has every right to impeach the president of the United States,” she said. “But what we’re doing today, rushing this impeachment in an hour- or two-hour-long debate on the floor of this chamber, bypassing judiciary, poses great questions about the constitutionality of this process.”

House clears the way for impeachment debate. Video Sceengrab

She then returned to the issue of violence and hateful rhetoric spoken by, among others, members of Congress and their allies.

“…[W]e need to recognize, number one, that our words have consequences; that there is violence on both sides of the aisle,” Mace added. “We’ve contributed to it. We need to take responsibility for our words and our actions, we need to acknowledge there’s a problem, take responsibility for it, and stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution.”

Jon Dougherty

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