U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced a resolution Monday to update Senate rules to allow a motion to dismiss articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump for lack of prosecution.
The resolution, which calls for immediate action on an impeachment, is available here.
Blackburn tweeted, “Impeachment shouldn’t be playing out like an episode of House of Cards. If Pelosi fails to send the articles promptly over to the Senate, we should hold a vote to dismiss them and get on with our work. That’s why I’m co-sponsoring @Hawleymo’s impeachment rule change resolution.”
Impeachment shouldn’t be playing out like an episode of House of Cards. If Pelosi fails to send the articles promptly over to the Senate, we should hold a vote to dismiss them and get on with our work. That’s why I’m co-sponsoring @Hawleymo’s impeachment rule change resolution. https://t.co/RCI0yPNDlo
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) January 6, 2020
Blackburn, in a press release, called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s attempt to prevent an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate “unprecedented.”
“After three years of searching for a reason to impeach this president, Democrats in the House cannot seem to find the time to send over the articles of impeachment,” Blackburn said. “Impeachment ought to be reserved for high crimes and misdemeanors – acts that, if identified, require the timely and prompt removal of a president. If House Democrats are so confident in their findings, they ought to have no problem sending the articles over within a 25 day deadline.”
The Senate, according to the Blackburn press release, has adopted a set of 26 rules that govern all impeachment proceedings, known as the “Rules of Procedure and Practice in the Senate When Sitting on Impeachment Trials.” Those Rules presume prompt delivery of the articles of impeachment to the Senate following their adoption by the House. Historically, the House delivered articles of impeachment to the Senate for action almost simultaneously with the vote to impeach.
During the Clinton impeachment, for example, the articles were transmitted to the Senate the same day they were approved. Consequently, the current Senate rules have no mechanism to address Speaker Pelosi’s unprecedented attempt to prevent a Senate trial by withholding the articles after the President has been impeached.
Pelosi’s gambit raises grave constitutional concerns, Blackburn said. Article 1, Section 3 gives the Senate the “sole” power to try impeachment cases. However, if the Speaker refuses to transmit the articles after the President has been impeached, she could prevent the Senate from exercising its constitutional prerogative, perhaps indefinitely.
The resolution would amend the Senate’s impeachment rules to prevent this abuse of the Constitution and protect the Senate’s sole power to try impeachment. The resolution would allow the Senate to dismiss for lack of prosecution any articles of impeachment that the House of Representatives has delayed transmitting for 25 calendar days or more. Under this new rule, any Senator would be entitled to move to dismiss once the allotted period had elapsed. Any motion to dismiss would be voted upon by the full Senate.
Hawley said, “Speaker Pelosi started this bogus impeachment by claiming President Trump was an urgent ‘threat to democracy’ who had to be removed now. But after a bipartisan vote against the articles in the House, and with the public opposed to the Democrats’ partisan games, Pelosi has changed her tune. Now she wants to prevent a Senate trial, perhaps indefinitely. But the Constitution gives the Senate sole power to adjudicate articles of impeachment, not the House. If Speaker Pelosi is afraid to try her case, the articles should be dismissed for failure to prosecute and Congress should get back to doing the people’s business.”
WATCH LIVE → Senator Josh Hawley takes the Senate floor to give remarks on his proposed update to Senate rules that will allow a motion to dismiss articles of impeachment for lack of prosecution. https://t.co/8Jrx9YXDz2
— Senator Hawley Press Office (@SenHawleyPress) January 6, 2020
Blackburn and Hawley are joined in their effort by Sens. Rick Scott (R-FL); Mike Braun (R-IN); Ted Cruz (R-TX); Steve Daines (R-MT); John Barrasso (R-WY); Tom Cotton (R-AR); and Joni Ernst (R-IA).
According to a press release by Hawley, the resolution says:
Title: Amending the Rules of Procedure and Practice in the Senate When Sitting on Impeachment Trials.
Resolved, That rule I of the Rules of Procedure and Practice in the Senate When Sitting on Impeachment Trials is amended to read as follows:
“I. Whensoever the Senate shall receive notice from the House of Representatives that managers are appointed on their part to conduct an impeachment against any person and are directed to carry articles of impeachment to the Senate, the Secretary of the Senate shall immediately inform the House of Representatives that the Senate is ready to receive the managers for the purpose of exhibiting such articles of impeachment, agreeably to such notice.
If, following adoption of such articles, the House of Representatives does not so notify the Senate or otherwise provide for such articles to be exhibited to the Senate within 25 calendar days from the date of adoption of such articles, as recorded in the Journal of the House of Representatives, such articles shall be deemed exhibited before the Senate and it shall be in order for any Senator to offer a motion to dismiss such articles with prejudice for failure by the House of Representatives to prosecute such articles. Such motion shall be adopted by an affirmative vote of a majority of the Senators, duly chosen and sworn, without debate by the yeas and nays, which shall be entered on the record.”
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.