McConnell co-sponsors measure to change Senate impeachment rules

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been sitting on the House-passed articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump for more than three weeks now, and though she signaled her intent on Friday to finally transmit those articles next week to the Senate for a trial to commence, there are no guarantees that she will actually do so.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) may very well have forced Pelosi into following through, however, by signing on as a co-sponsor to a resolution that would allow for a motion to dismiss the articles “with prejudice” if they aren’t forwarded to the Senate in a timely fashion, The Hill reported.

Motion to dismiss articles

It was on Thursday that it was revealed that McConnell indicated his support for the measure put forward by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) that was expressly intended to bring an end to Pelosi’s interminable delay in transmitting the supposedly “urgent” articles — which were passed in mid-December — to the Senate.

Hawley’s resolution would essentially change the Senate’s rules regarding impeachment and impose a 25-day window within which the House must transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate for consideration and a trial.

If the House failed to deliver the articles within that time frame, any senator would be able to “offer a motion to dismiss such articles with prejudice for failure by the House of Representatives to prosecute such articles.”

If the proposed rule change were to pass, a motion to dismiss pursuant to its language would require the support of only a simple majority and would effectively kill any attempted impeachment without a trial being held.

No concessions to Pelosi

According to National Review, McConnell was the 13th Republican senator to co-sponsor Hawley’s resolution.

The move also came just days after McConnell revealed that he had the requisite 51 votes already lined up to set the Senate rules for an impeachment trial — to mirror those used for the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton — without further negotiations with the Democrats.

That effectively blocked the futile attempt by Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to force McConnell into making a series of concessions, such as agreeing ahead of the trial to subpoena more documents and witness testimony for which House Democrats had been too impatient to gather prior to voting on the articles.

In essence, McConnell informed Pelosi that he wouldn’t wait around forever for her to send the articles over to the Senate and that, if she continued to withhold them and prevent a trial from taking place, he would simply dismiss them in absentia and “get back to the people’s business” in the deliberative legislative body.

McConnell’s power move

This was nothing short of a savvy — if extremely blunt — power move by McConnell against Pelosi, and it likely forced her hand into conceding defeat and announcing that the articles would be transmitted without having obtained the concessions she tried to force for so long.

Given the fact that Pelosi has now signaled her intent to forward the articles to the Senate, Hawley’s resolution may no longer be necessary. However, it is quite possible that it will still receive a vote in the Senate, if only to ensure that a similar delay tactic isn’t employed in a future impeachment process.

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