With the impeachment effort against President Donald Trump still frozen, two Republican senators unveiled a new proposal aimed at forcing House Democrats’ hand.
After the December 18 House vote to advance to two articles of impeachment against Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she would withhold the articles until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) detailed the procedures of the impeachment trial.
McConnell has stated, despite some resistance within his caucus, that the Senate trial cannot begin until the House transmits the articles of impeachment.
In an effort to force the Democrats to relinquish the impeachment articles, Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Josh Hawley (Mo.) unveiled a proposed rule change that would require the House to send the articles to the Senate within 25 calendar days of the impeachment vote.
If the House misses the deadline, any senator could introduce a motion to dismiss the impeachment charges for “failure to prosecute.” The rule change would deny any time for debate on the motion to dismiss the charges.
“Such motion shall be adopted by an affirmative vote of a majority of the Senators, duly chosen and sworn, without debate by the yeas and nays, which shall be entered on the record.”
The resolution had nine original co-sponsors, including Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Mike Braun (Ind.), Steve Daines (Mont.) David Perdue (Ga.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), and Jim Inhofe (Okla.).
Hawley said in a statement that Pelosi “started this bogus impeachment by claiming President Trump was an urgent ‘threat to democracy’ who had to be removed now,” and suggested that she is “afraid to try her case.”
“Now she wants to prevent a Senate trial, perhaps indefinitely. But the Constitution gives the Senate sole power to adjudicate articles of impeachment, not the House. If Speaker Pelosi is afraid to try her case, the articles should be dismissed for failure to prosecute, and Congress should get back to doing the people’s business.”
Cruz accused the House Democrats of making “a mockery of our Constitution,” and noted that the Senate has the Constitutional authority to dictate the terms of its trial, he said in a statement.
“Now, they’re undermining the role of the Senate by attempting to dictate the terms of the Senate’s trial. Under our Constitution, the Senate has the sole authority to try impeachment. It is the Senate’s duty to take up these articles without delay, and to resolve them in a timely and constitutionally appropriate manner.”
Thus far, Pelosi has not given any indication on when the House will vote on naming impeachment managers to argue the case for impeachment before the Senate.
And as House Democrats continue to hold onto the impeachment articles, Senate Republicans have begun to try to find ways to move forward — such as Hawley and Cruz’s proposal.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) chimed in over the weekend when he said he would push for a rule change in the Senate that would allow the chamber to begin its trial even if the House does not transmit the articles.
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