As Democrats prepare to impeach President Trump for the second time, President-elect Joe Biden is rushing to ensure the effort does not derail his legislative agenda or the confirmation of his Cabinet picks in the early days of his administration.
Trump could be impeached as soon as Wednesday, for what House Democrats see as his role in inciting the riots at the U.S. Capitol, just seven days before Biden is sworn in.
After the House votes, the impeachment articles are expected to move immediately to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has indicated a trial likely won’t start until Jan. 19, overlapping with Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. (The Senate is currently on recess and cannot return to Washington without unanimous consent from all 100 senators.)
The timing could thwart Biden’s pledge to “hit the ground running” on coronavirus relief legislation, prompting him to ask the Senate this week whether the chamber could divide its schedule so that lawmakers could consider his agenda and impeachment at the same time.
“I had a discussion today with some of the folks in the House and Senate,” Biden told reporters on Monday while receiving the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. “And the question is whether or not, for example, if the House moves forward – which they obviously are – with the impeachment and sends it over to the Senate, whether or not we can bifurcate this.”
Absent a broader agreement among leadership, Senate rules dictate that during impeachment – which often lasts for weeks – senators must meet six days a week, taking only Sunday off, potentially hindering the incoming administration. Biden signaled that he was exploring ways to advance his plan to tackle the dual health and economic crises while still pursuing impeachment.