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How Florida’s members of Congress are expected to vote on impeachment today

Will it be a party-line vote?
Protesters demonstrate as the House of Representatives begins debate on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol building, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Protesters demonstrate as the House of Representatives begins debate on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol building, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) [ MATT ROURKE | AP ]
Published Dec. 18, 2019|Updated Dec. 18, 2019

Florida’s last two holdouts on impeachment signaled in the last 24 hours that they intend to side with their respective parties when the U.S. House decides whether to impeach President Donald Trump later today.

It means Florida’s representatives are likely to split on impeachment, with 13 Democrats voting for it and 14 Republicans against — a delegation just as divided as the state it represents. Half of Florida voters oppose impeachment, according Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies latest survey, while 46 percent support it, within the margin of error.

RELATED: Impeach Trump? Tampa Bay is divided, just like everywhere else.

Any chance it wouldn’t end that way resided in the consciences of two of Florida’s most moderate lawmakers, Democrat Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park and Republican Rep. Francis Rooney of Naples. Neither, it seems, intends to buck their party.

In an op-ed published this morning, Murphy recalled her upbringing in a family that fled communist Vietnam and her career working in the Pentagon after 9/11. All of this was on her mind when she decided she would vote to impeach Trump.

“It’s a vote I will cast with great reluctance, but with even greater resolve," Murphy wrote in the Orlando Sentinel. “In a sense, the president has violated the principles that my own life has led me to hold most dear.”

Rooney, meanwhile, told his hometown NBC station, WBBH-TV, that he is leaning toward voting against impeaching Trump. However, he notably skipped House floor action this morning, perhaps signaling he has not fully made up his mind.

Despite siding with Republicans on key impeachment votes leading up to today, Rooney has remained critical of Trump’s posture on Ukraine. The pressure Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani put on the country’s leader to launch an investigation into Vice President Joe Biden and his son was “bothersome” and “a big deal,” Rooney said.

Hundreds of Rooney’s constituents rallied outside his Naples office yesterday, a last minute plea for the former ambassador to switch sides. Whether Rooney agrees with their framing will be determined some time in the late afternoon or early evening, when the House is expected to vote.

Most of Florida’s representatives, like much of Congress, have long decided to stand behind their party banner. Some have made that clear from the front lines of the impeachment investigation.

Trump ally U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz made a spectacle by storming a closed-door hearing and peppering witnesses with questions designed to undermine the case for impeachment. U.S. Rep. Val Demings, a mainstay during the hearings both on the Hill and cable news, emerged as a rising Democratic star and one of Trump’s most pointed critics.

There was little doubt how U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman, would vote. The same goes for freshman U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, who has quickly established himself as one of Trump’s fiercest defenders in Congress.

Some have taken more time to come to what many assumed was a foregone conclusion. U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, a Tallahassee Democrat, didn’t immediately support launching an impeachment investigation. He eventually did and on Tuesday told his local WFSU that he will stand by his Democratic colleagues on Wednesday.

And while U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist said yesterday he came to “grave conclusion” to impeach Trump, the former Republican governor had given little indication over the past few months he would break from his new home in the Democratic Party.

“This is a sad, painful, and divisive situation for our nation," Crist said. "But impeachment is the direct result of the President’s own words and actions. And we have a duty to our oath of office and the constitution to not stand silent.”

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