WASHINGTON — U.S. House Republican Whip Steve Scalise correctly predicted that all GOP members of the House would side with President Donald Trump when the House took a formal vote on an impeachment inquiry.

Scalise, a Jefferson Republican who is a close ally of Trump, has spent weeks railing against the impeachment inquiry and led a group of GOP lawmakers last week in storming a closed-door hearing last week.

"The people of this country deserve better," Scalise said. "We should be tackling real problems."

Earlier this week, he predicted all Republicans and "a couple of Democrats" would vote against the impeachment. The vote was 232-196 in favor of continuing the impeachment probe, now publicly, through designated committees. Two Democrats voted against the measure, joining all voting Republicans. Three Republicans were absent.

Louisiana's members split along party lines with Republicans, fierce defenders of Trump amid the impeachment inquiry, speaking out against the impeachment effort.

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, a New Orleans Democrat, is the only member of the House majority from Louisiana and the only member of the state's delegation who voted in favor of the impeachment inquiry Thursday. He called Thursday's vote a "necessary moment in history."

“Democrats have remained fair and professional, and all members of Congress have an obligation to reveal the truth to the American people," he said. "The rules established provide a clear path forward for the impeachment inquiry.”

But the GOP members have decried the process.

“They’ve been having these secret hearings,” said Rep. Mike Johnson, a Benton Republican who chairs the Republican Study Committee. “The resolution doesn’t resolve that.”

He argued that Democrats have deviated from the procedures followed during the three other times impeachment has been taken up in the nation’s history.

“They have made a mockery of the process,” Johnson said. “The resolution they voted on today was a continuation of that process.”

U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, called Thursday one of the most important votes he’s taken since joining Congress in 2015.

"The impeachment inquiry has been going on for over a month — nearly a month and a half. The bottom line is this entire process has been absolutely unfair,” he said.

Under the rules the House approved Thursday, hearings will continue with the three key impeachment inquiry committees — Oversight and Reform; Intelligence; and Foreign Affairs. Before the vote, only members of those committees were authorized to attend the closed-door meetings, even when testimony wasn’t classified.

Graves isn’t on one of the three committees that has been designated to oversee the process, so he hasn’t been able to sit in on hearings to date.

“There is nothing fair or impartial about it,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Port Barre, is the only member of the Louisiana delegation who is on one of the committees and has been taking part in the hearings to date. There are about four dozen other Republicans on the committees who have access to the information — about a quarter of the House GOP caucus.

U.S. Sens. John Kennedy, R-Madisonville, and Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, were among the 44 senators who signed onto a Senate resolution last week condemning the House’s impeachment inquiry of Trump because there had not been a formal vote. The impeachment probe is centered on Trump's request that Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who is now seeking the Democratic presidential nomination for 2020, and Biden's son's dealings with one of Ukraine's largest natural gas companies.

How they voted on moving forward with impeachment inquiry:

For: U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans).

Against: U.S. Reps. Steve Scalise (R-Jefferson), Ralph Abraham (R-Alto), Garret Graves (R-Baton Rouge), Clay Higgins (R-Port Barre), Mike Johnson (R-Benton). 

Email Elizabeth Crisp at ecrisp@theadvocate.com and follow on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.