The United States House of Representatives on Thursday passed a resolution to formally proceed with  impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

The vote which was the first formal test of support for impeachment in the Democratic-controlled House detailed how the inquiry will move into a more public phase and it was not a vote on whether to impeach the president.

The White House has however condemned the vote which passed along party lines.

“Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats have done nothing more than enshrine unacceptable violations of due process into House rules,” the White House Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham said in a statement shortly after the vote. 

Only two Democrats who represent districts that Mr. Trump overwhelmingly won in 2016 voted against the resolution along with all Republicans for a total count of 232 in favour and 196 against.

The resolution also sets out the rights that lawyers to Mr. Trump who is accused of trying to pressure Ukraine into investigating unsubstantiated corruption claims against his political rival, Joe Biden and his son would have.

Republicans have also criticized Democrats for the closed hearings up to this point but Democrats insist they were needed to gather evidence ahead of the public stage of the inquiry, denying allegations that they have been secretive.

The vote will now move the inquiry into a new phase, which could eventually see articles of impeachment recommended against Trump. If that happens and the House voted to pass the articles, a trial would be held in the Senate.