- Biden suggested the Senate divide its time between carrying out his agenda and holding an impeachment trial for Trump.
- “My priority, first and foremost, is to get the stimulus bill passed and, secondly, begin to rebuild the economy,” Biden said.
- The move could temper fears among some Democrats that a second Trump impeachment trial could distract from Biden’s early agenda on the economy and the pandemic.
- House Democrats are expected to impeach Trump a second time on Wednesday following his incitement of a deadly riot at the Capitol last week.
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President-elect Joe Biden suggested on Monday that the Senate could divide its time between an impeachment trial of outgoing President Donald Trump and passing his early legislative agenda, which includes a multitrillion dollar stimulus package.
“That’s my hope and expectation,” Biden told reporters after getting a COVID-19 shot in Delaware. “My priority, first and foremost, is to get the stimulus bill passed and, secondly, begin to rebuild the economy.”
He indicated he was consulting with the Senate parliamentarian on whether the chamber could split its schedule. “Can we go half-day on dealing with the impeachment and half-day getting my people nominated and confirmed in the Senate?” he said.
The move may temper fears among some Democrats that an impeachment trial could distract from Biden’s early agenda. The president-elect has pledged to approve another large federal rescue package to assist individuals and small businesses as virus cases pile up and the economy shows signs it’s deteriorating.
It’s likely to include $US2,000 stimulus checks, federal unemployment benefits and vaccine funds among other measures. Congress and Trump enacted a $US900 billion economic assistance plan in late December.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the incoming majority leader, said Democrats won’t allow a Trump impeachment trial to detract from Biden’s legislative ambitions.
“We’re going to have to do several things at once but we got to move the agenda as well,” the New York senator told the Buffalo News in an interview published Monday. “Yes, we’ve got to do both.”
Biden’s remarks come after House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment on Monday charging Trump with inciting an insurrection against the federal government at the Capitol last week.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement the House will move ahead with Trump’s second impeachment on Wednesday if Vice President Mike Pence doesn’t attempt to remove him from office through the 25th Amendment. “The President’s threat to America is urgent, and so too will be our action,” Pelosi said.
It’s expected to pass the chamber. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on Monday he supports sending the article to the Senate as soon as possible, a move that would trigger an immediate trial â€” and one that could stretch into the first days of the Biden presidency.
Other top Democrats like House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn have suggested delivering the article to the Senate after Biden’s first 100 days in office are completed. The timing and length of a trial remains unclear.
However, the Republican-held Senate is unlikely to conduct a trial before Trump leaves office on January 20 and Biden is sworn in. A two-thirds majority is required for the Senate to convict, and a simple majority vote afterwards could bar Trump from holding federal office again.
During Trump’s impeachment early last year, the Senate divided its days between legislative business and judicial nominations in the morning, and a trial presided by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in the afternoon.
“It is possible for the Senate to conduct legislative and executive business on the same calendar days that it meets for a trial, but it must meet in legislative or executive session to do so,” the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said in a report last year.
The Senate may require unanimous consent for some legislative business during an impeachment trial, per the CRS, meaning any Republican senator could block it from happening.
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