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Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Staff/Getty Images

The number of House Democrats who have publicly expressed support for an impeachment inquiry has quietly crept up to 117 — an average of one a day for the month of July that brings the caucus one short of a majority, just in time for August recess.

Why it matters: The slow-drip of lawmakers joining the impeachment fray, boosted in waves by the Mueller hearings and President Trump's racist outbursts, disguises the reality that momentum has tilted squarely in favor of a formal inquiry.

Driving the news: Florida Rep. Ted Deutch wrote in the Sun Sentinel this morning that "the question is no longer whether the House should vote to proceed with a formal impeachment inquiry. The inquiry has already begun."

  • Deutch is referencing a recent court filing in which the House Judiciary Committee wrote that it had already begun "investigating whether to recommend articles of impeachment."

The big picture: Deutch, the chairman of the House Ethics Committee and a member of House Judiciary, is not the only influential Democrat to come out in favor of an impeachment inquiry this week.

Between the lines: Many have viewed Pelosi's reluctance to launch impeachment proceedings as a means of protecting the swing-district Democrats who were key to winning back the House majority in November. But if those very lawmakers are taking it upon themselves to call for impeachment, Pelosi may soon find her stance obsolete.

What to watch: The fall is widely seen as Democrats' last chance to move forward with a formal inquiry before election season begins in earnest. As members return home, four national progressive groups tell BuzzFeed News they're launching a campaign to pressure wary Democrats on their impeachment stances through town halls and local events.

  • Keep an eye on Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (N.M.) and civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (Ga.), says Politico's Kyle Cheney.
  • "Luján’s support for impeachment proceedings could help unlock the backing of a slew of freshman Democrats who Luján helped get elected in 2016, when he ran Democrats’ campaign arm ... And Lewis’ support would carry significant sway with members of the Congressional Black Caucus who have remained on the fence so far."

Go deeper: The impeachment whip list

Go deeper

Democrats drubbing Trumpless GOP on social media

Data: Twitter/CrowdTangle (Feb 24, 2021); Chart: Will Chase/Axios

In a swift reversal from 90 days ago, Democrats are now the ones with overpowering social media muscle and the ability to drive news.

The big picture: Former President Donald Trump’s digital exile and the reversal of national power has turned the tables on which party can keep a stranglehold on online conversation.

Here come Earmarks 2.0

DeLauro at a hearing in May 2020. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Appropriations Committee is preparing to announce details of a plan to restore a limited version of earmarks, which give lawmakers power to direct spending to their districts to pay for special projects.

Why it matters: A series of scandals involving members in both parties prompted a moratorium on earmarks in 2011. But Democrats argue it's worth the risk to bring them back because earmarks would increase their leverage to pass critical legislation with a narrow majority, especially infrastructure and spending bills.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
47 mins ago - Health

New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

New research is bolstering the case for delaying second doses of coronavirus vaccines.

Why it matters: Most vulnerable Americans remain unvaccinated heading into March, when experts predict the more infectious virus variant first found in the U.K. could become dominant in the U.S.