Congress is back in session, so impeachment is the order of the day.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi left for the winter break without sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate, saying she wanted to see their rules first. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell essentially thumbed his nose at her, pointing out that the Senate controls its own destiny. Now McConnell has the votes to back that up.
McConnell said on Tuesday he has enough Republican support to set the rules for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, which will end the Democrats’ efforts to call new witnesses against the president.
McConnell doesn’t want more witnesses. Instead, he wants to hold a fast trial based on evidence collected in the House of Representatives. Still, they Senate could hear more witnesses. The ability to set the rules gives them the power to leave that decision until later.
Senator Lindsey Graham, referring to an arrangement made during the 1999 impeachment trial of then-President Bill Clinton after Republicans and Democrats were similarly deadlocked over the question of witness testimony, said:
“We’ve got the votes necessary to start the trial using the Clinton model, which is good news.”
Meanwhile, Pelosi is still holding up the articles. Her office said no decision has been made on the timeline for sending the articles of impeachment and that Democrats are backing the strategy of holding onto them for the time being.
All in all, it looks like Congress is back to where it was before the break, at an impasse along party lines.