Political Editors / January 10, 2020

McConnell Puts Pelosi on the Clock

The Senate leader backs a resolution that would soon dismiss articles of impeachment.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell officially forced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hand on Thursday. He signed on to cosponsor Sen. Josh Hawley’s resolution to dismiss the House Democrats’ articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump should Pelosi fail to send them to the Senate soon. The Hill reports, “The resolution would give the House 25 days to send articles of impeachment over to the Senate. After that, a senator could offer a motion to dismiss ‘with prejudice for failure by the House of Representatives to prosecute such articles’ with a simple majority vote, according to Hawley’s proposal.”

Following McConnell’s announcement earlier this week that he had secured enough votes to adopt impeachment-trial rules that don’t include the precondition demanded by Pelosi, the speaker has struggled to maintain party support for her stalling gambit. At least four Democrat senators and several Democrat House members have called on Pelosi to submit the impeachment articles.

And yesterday, following his joining Hawley’s resolution, McConnell blasted Pelosi and Democrats for their clearly partisan impeachment charade. “They have initiated one of the most grave and most unsettling processes in our Constitution and then refuse to allow a resolution,” McConnell declared. “The speaker began something that she herself predicted would be ‘so divisive to the country’ … and now she is unilaterally saying it cannot move forward towards a resolution.”

In order for Hawley’s resolution to be adopted, it would require a two-thirds majority vote, an unlikely prospect given Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s certain opposition. But that would leave McConnell the option of invoking the “nuclear option” eliminating the two-thirds threshold and passing the resolution via a simple majority vote. To continue the gambling analogy, McConnell is playing with house money, while Pelosi is quickly running out of chips.

Update: Pelosi appears to have caved, telling fellow Democrats she’ll transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate next week. She was finally forced to admit she had no cards left to play.

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