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Growing Portion of Democratic ‘Aggies’ Supports Investigation of Trump

Although President Trump remains popular in rural America, 13 of the 32 Democrats serving on two food and agriculture panels in the House support an impeachment inquiry of the president. Among them are three House Agriculture Committee members who called for action this week, following reports Trump sought a foreign investigation that would aid his reelection.

Support among “aggies” is not as strong as the overall Democratic caucus – more than two thirds of House Democrats favor an impeachment inquiry, according to a CNN tally – but is high considering that rural areas tend to be more politically conservative than urban America.

As of Tuesday, 10 of the 26 Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee and four of seven Democrats on the House Appropriations Subcommittee overseeing USDA have called for an inquiry. One of them, Chellie Pingree of Maine, serves on both panels, so the count could be phrased as 13 of 32 members of the panels as well as Democrats holding 14 of 33 seats on them.

A prominent dissenter is Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson from western Minnesota, who doubts Trump would alter his behavior or that impeachment would succeed absent wide, bipartisan support.

“I believe it will be a failed process that will end up even further dividing our country and weakening our ability to act together on issues like passing USMCA, containing foreign threats, and growing our economy,” said Peterson in a statement.

Trump sneered at the idea of impeachment, saying in New York that “if she (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) does that, they (analysts) all say that’s a positive for me from the election.” Soon afterward, Pelosi announced the House “is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.” Speaking to reporters, Trump repeated his description of “a perfect call” by telephone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July and said he would release a transcript of it. Trump said his goal in the call was to make sure U.S. aid, withheld for months, would be spent properly. Published reports say Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate a company that once employed a son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Three first-term Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee – Representatives Angie Craig of Minnesota, Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, and Antonio Delgado of New York state – declared their support for an inquiry or impeachment this week. All are from swing districts and won by narrow margins in 2018.

“I can only conclude that Congress move forward with articles of impeachment,” said Delgado on Tuesday, after declaring Trump committed an impeachable offense. “The president used the power of the presidency to pressure a foreign government to help him win an election.”

Spanberger, a former CIA case officer, and Craig cited national security on Monday as the reason they supported further investigation of Trump. Craig said impeachment hearings should be opened “immediately, fairly, and impartially.” Spanberger said the allegations deserve examination. “Congress must urgently determine if these allegations are true.”

In addition to Craig, Delgado, and Spanberger, Democrats on the Agriculture Committee in favor of an inquiry are Filemon Vela of Texas, Marcia Fudge of Ohio, Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, Alma Adams of North Carolina, Chellie Pingree of Maine, Kim Schrier of Washington state, and Salud Carbajal of California.

On the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Democrats in support of an inquiry are Pingree, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, Barbara Lee of California, and Betty McCollum of Minnesota.

Peterson is the only Minnesota Democrat in Congress who does not support an inquiry, said the Minnesota Post. Both of Minnesota’s senators, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, who are members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, back hearings. Smith announced support on Tuesday for the House to begin impeachment proceedings. Klobuchar, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, gave her support to impeachment proceedings in May.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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