Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is exploring a way to force the Senate back into session before Jan. 20 to consider articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump for the second time, according to a senior Democratic aide.
Reconvening the chamber ― which effectively adjourned after a mob stormed into and ransacked the U.S. Capitol last week, resulting in the deaths of at least five people ― would require agreement from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the aide noted.
McConnell’s office said last week that the Senate is out until Jan. 19 and cannot conduct business beforehand without unanimous consent, meaning an objection from any one senator could prevent the chamber from coming back into session.
Schumer, however, could try to invoke the majority and minority leaders’ combined authority to bring the chamber back into session under a 2004 resolution passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
The resolution authorizes “the majority and minority leaders or their designees, when the Senate is out of session, acting jointly and within the limits of the Constitution, to modify any order for the time or place of the convening of the Senate when, in their opinion, such action is warranted by intervening circumstances.”
The idea is to put pressure on McConnell to hold Trump’s second impeachment trial about a year after the president was acquitted by the Senate in his first impeachment trial over abuse of power in his dealings with Ukraine.
The House is expected to vote to impeach Trump by the end of the week on charges of “incitement of insurrection” by an angry mob of hundreds of Trump supporters that attacked the Capitol building.
Some top House Democrats have floated the possibility of withholding the articles of impeachment from the Senate for a few months in order to give incoming President Joe Biden and his administration the ability to focus on Cabinet confirmations and the worsening coronavirus pandemic. Once the impeachment articles are physically sent from the House to the Senate, a trial must begin immediately, which will take up precious time on the Senate calendar.
Biden told reporters on Monday that he had spoken to lawmakers about a way to “bifurcate” an impeachment trial so as to not delay his agenda. The Senate would spend “a half day dealing with impeachment and a half day” on confirmations and COVID-19 relief, he said.
Schumer, meanwhile, suggested that the Senate could handle both an impeachment trial and other legislative business.
“We’re going to have to do several things at once but we’ve got to move the agenda as well. Yes, we’ve got to do both,” he told The Buffalo News.