45 GOP senators vote against tabling motion about constitutionality of the impeachment trial
Forty-five Republican senators on Tuesday, notably including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), voted against tabling Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) effort to deem the forthcoming Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump as unconstitutional, possibly foreshadowing the results of next month’s trial.
While many Republicans claim that it is unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial once a president has left office, supporters of holding a trial for Trump argue that historical precedent is on their side, often citing the 1876 impeachment of Secretary of War William Belknap after he had resigned from his post.
Moreover, while a report this month from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) acknowledged that there are reasonable arguments in favor of both interpretations of the Constitution, which does not explicitly mention if an official can only be impeached while still in office, the CRS report said that “it appears that most scholars who have closely examined the question have concluded that Congress has authority to extend the impeachment process to officials who are no longer in office.”
Tuesday afternoon, Paul raised a point of order to hold a vote regarding the constitutionality of the impeachment trial since Trump is no longer president. However, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) then requested a vote to table it, which senators voted 55-45 in favor of doing. Despite Paul’s point of order being killed, the sheer amount of Republican senators who supported his motion, including McConnell, demonstrates that there may not be as much appetite in the Senate GOP to impeach Trump.
The five Senate Republicans who joined Democrats in voting to table Paul’s point of order were Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine), Ben Sasse (Neb.) Pat Toomey (Pa.), and Mitt Romney (Utah).
“I think there will be enough support on it to show there’s no chance they can impeach the president,” Paul had said earlier in the day. “If 34 people support my resolution that this is an unconstitutional proceeding, it shows they don’t have the votes.”
After his point of order was tabled, Paul claimed that the impeachment trial will be “dead on arrival.”
“45 Senators agreed that this sham of a ‘trial’ is unconstitutional,” Paul tweeted. “That is more than will be needed to acquit and to eventually end this partisan impeachment process. This ‘trial’ is dead on arrival in the Senate.”
In order for the Senate to convict Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” 17 Republicans would need to join all 50 Democrats in order to reach a two-thirds supermajority. If Trump is convicted, he will be barred in the future from serving in public office.
The impeachment trial will begin the week of February 8, and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who is the president pro tempore and the senior-most Senate Democrat, will oversee the trial.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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House GOP: Conservatives Paralyze Legislative Business
Conservatives within the House GOP are taking on party leaders by engaging in an unprecedented blockade, effectively paralyzing the chamber’s legislative business. The standoff began after a typically routine procedural vote failed on Tuesday, prompting conservatives to seize control of the floor.
At the center of the dispute is the debt limit deal struck between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Biden. Some conservatives feel that the procedures used to pass the deal in the House last week did not align with the agreement they had reached with McCarthy. This agreement granted conservatives more influence over decision-making and the operational procedures involved in moving the bill forward, and they now accuse leadership of violating these commitments.
The tension escalated when Freedom Caucus members and their allies joined forces with Democrats in voting against a rule that would have allowed several bills, including two addressing the Biden administration’s gas stove limitations, to reach the House floor. This marked the first time in two decades that a rules vote had failed.
Representative Matt Gaetz voiced his frustration, expressing concern that the fundamental commitments made to secure McCarthy’s speakership had been disregarded due to the debt limit deal. Gaetz also criticized the punishment meted out to Representative Andrew Clyde for his stance against the rule that allowed the debt limit increase.
According to reports from Fox News, Gaetz said, “I am very aggrieved at the punishment that was delivered to my colleague Andrew Clyde on his bill regarding pistol braces… for him standing with us and the votes we took against the rule that allowed the debt limit to be increased.”
Gaetz pledged to bring the House floor to a grinding halt, anticipating a prolonged shutdown.
“We took down the rule because we’re frustrated at the way this place is operating,” stated Rep. Gaetz. “We’re concerned that the fundamental commitments that allowed Kevin McCarthy to assume the speakership have been violated as a consequence of the debt limit deal,” he added.
The era of the Imperial Speakership is OVER!
I’m done with their failure theater. https://t.co/Ceovz4C03U pic.twitter.com/7jNJpfRz4Z
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) June 6, 2023
The conservatives’ grievances extend beyond the procedural vote, with accusations that McCarthy has deviated from the undisclosed agreement made in January. Specific concessions that the dissident Republicans seek from McCarthy remain undisclosed, but they emphasize the need to restore unity and renegotiate their role within the party.
While McCarthy met with members of the Freedom Caucus, little progress was reported, and it remains uncertain if any votes will take place on the following day. The group insists that the restoration of a fair and inclusive process is essential to rectify the perceived failures of the previous week.
As the GOP leadership grapples with the repercussions of this internal standoff, the Republican majority’s effectiveness hangs in the balance. The path forward hinges on whether leadership is willing to reciprocate and address the concerns of the the dissenting group within the conservative ranks, ultimately determining the future of the party’s legislative agenda.
Follow Alexander Carter on Twitter @AlexCarterDC for more!
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