House Democrats appear poised to impeach President Trump for a second time on Wednesday, setting the stage for a Senate trial that’s unlikely to start before Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20.
The effort is throwing a curveball into Biden’s plan to “hit the ground running” — with the party poised to control the White House and Congress for the first time since 2010 — and forcing Democrats to scramble to find ways to keep the administration’s first 100 days on track.
Biden, speaking to reporters, said his aides were in talks with the Senate parliamentarian staff about whether it would be possible to divide the Senate’s day between confirmation votes for nominees and taking up legislation and holding an impeachment trial.
“Can we go half day on dealing with impeachment, and half day getting my people nominated and confirmed in the Senate as well as moving on the package?” Biden asked. “I haven’t gotten an answer from the parliamentarian yet.”
Absent a larger agreement among Senate leadership, the trial would start at noon each day, but with no proceedings on Sundays. That would limit the amount of time for lawmakers to tackle other items on the to-do list for Biden’s first 100 days.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) indicated he wants to find a way to juggle both, saying “we got to move the agenda as well.”
"We'd like to do it in the first few months," Schumer told the Buffalo News about the need for coronavirus and infrastructure legislation. "Of course, we have to get the nominees in place, and we hope our Republican friends, at such a crucial time, won't hold up these nominees."
But Schumer will need cooperation from Republicans, most of whom aren’t defending Trump in the wake of last week’s Capitol riots but also aren’t publicly supportive of voting to convict him even after he leaves office. The Senate did not take up any legislation or nominations amid Trump’s impeachment trial last year, which lasted just under three weeks with no witnesses called.
Though Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has said he is open to considering articles of impeachment, and Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) have called on Trump to resign, no GOP senator has pledged to vote for convicting Trump as part of a Senate trial.
The looming collision between an impeachment trial and Biden’s agenda comes as House Democrats appear ready to impeach Trump on Wednesday, which will make him the first president to go through the process twice.