By Gabriella Garcia
Now a week since the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, the House of Representatives has voted 232 to 197 to impeach Donald Trump. He is the first U.S. president to be impeached twice by the House.
The Senate must now either convict or acquit Trump. Despite the pressure from the Democratic Party, current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to begin the trial before Jan. 19—the day before president-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated. CNN reports this may be so Trump can serve out his final days in office.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has been urging McConnell to reconvene the Senate earlier in order to address the trial, but his efforts have since been rejected by the Senate Leader.
In a press conference on Jan. 12, Schumer cited legislation passed in 2004 that allows the two Senate Leaders to reconvene the Senate in times of emergency without congressional approval.
“This is a time of emergency,” Schumer asserted. “McConnell claims he needs unanimous consent, the agreement of all 100 senators, but it’s not so.”
Nevertheless, Schumer assures the public a trial will take place. After the impeachment vote, Schumer released a statement announcing, “… make no mistake, there will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate; there will be a vote on convicting the president for high crimes and misdemeanors…”
Although the term “impeachment” is commonly understood to simply mean a president’s removal from office, it also results in other consequences that make the impeachment process just as important after Trump’s presidency comes to an end.
Impeaching Trump, through what is called a “late impeachment,” would mean denying him the ability to run in future elections and withhold post-presidential benefits such as pension, lifetime security and more.
Conviction requires two-thirds of those present, but the specific number of votes required depends on who is present the day of the trial.
Georgia’s Senate race just experienced a runoff which resulted in the success of two Democratic candidates—Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. CNN reports that should the new senators be seated come the day of the trial, and should there be 100 senators present, 67 senator votes are necessary.
However, should the newly-elected senators not have a seat in office just yet, then 66 votes are required. Furthermore, if, say, certain senators wish to be exempt from voting, the ratio and thus overall vote count would change.
The days following Jan. 19 will be an incredibly busy time for the Senate, as it will be tasked with confirming Biden’s Cabinet nominees in addition to Trump’s trial.
As of now, the Senate will hold a confirmation hearing for four nominees during the week of the inauguration: Lloyd Austin for Defense Secretary; Anthony Blinken for Secretary of state; Alejandro Mayorkas for Secretary of Homeland Security and Janet Yellen for Treasury Secretary.
It is also likely Biden will seek to introduce legislation that addresses the pandemic and economic assistance during this time, in hopes of keeping up with his 100-day COVID-19 plan.
Gabriella Garcia is originally from the Bay Area, California and is completing her fourth year at UC Davis as a Political Science major and Professional Writing minor.