March 08, 2021

Underwood: Why I must vote to impeach the president

On Jan. 6, I barricaded myself inside my congressional office, fearing for my life. I used all the strength in my body to move my staff’s desks against our office doors. I was terrified. Indeed, we experienced an act of terrorism.

One week ago, the president of the United States incited an attack on the U.S. Capitol for the stated purpose of overturning the results of the election. Five Americans died in the chaos. This situation could not be more serious.

Just three days prior to the attack, I was sworn into the 117th Congress. I swore to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That oath represents my promise to you, and my promise to my congressional colleagues.

It is the foundation of every vote I take in Congress. And it is because of that oath that I have come to the decision that I must vote to impeach the president of the United States. Let me assure you: I have not come to this decision lightly.

The sad truth is that the president represents a grave threat to the American people, our democracy, and our national security. This president must be removed from office and we cannot wait to take action.

As your Congresswoman, I am committed to being accessible, transparent and accountable. I write today to explain the actions I plan to take over the next few days to protect our democracy.

On Tuesday, I joined my colleagues in the House of Representatives and called on Vice President Pence to utilize his powers under the 25th Amendment. The amendment states that in the event that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” the vice president and a majority of the president’s cabinet may provide a written declaration of that finding to Congress. Upon that declaration, the vice president becomes the acting president of the United States.

As of writing, I don’t know what the vice president will choose to do. However, I do know what I will do if Vice President Pence fails to exercise his Constitutional duty. This brings me to the consequence of last resort: impeachment.

If the vice president and the cabinet do not act, I will join my colleagues in the House of Representatives and vote to impeach the president for engaging in deadly, destructive, and seditious acts against the United States government.

I am deeply saddened to write these words, and I want to assure you that my decision has nothing to do with politics or partisanship. In fact, multiple members of the president’s own administration have resigned in response to his actions.

One of the hallmarks of our system of government is a peaceful transfer of power. Our democracy was attacked, and this is an action we must take to protect it. Our democracy is stronger than any one person, even when that person is the president of the United States. But that only holds true if we act.

Like our country, our community here in northern Illinois is strong. We’re resilient. And we are united by shared values of fairness, justice and patriotism. Together, we will stand up for our democracy. We will ensure our community remains safe and our nation secure.

• Lauren Underwood is a Democrat who was recently sworn in for her second term as a representative for the 14th District of Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives.