A very brief Congressional explainer

I’ve seen a fair number of people who are confused about what the hell the House is doing right now. To be clear, I am very very far from being an expert, and it’s possible that I’m going to get some details incorrect in this, but I think I’ve got the basic gist, and if anybody sees any outright errors, please put them in comments and I’ll amend the post.

My current understanding is that Pelosi has brought the House back into session today and has already asked for unanimous consent to bring a bill to the floor calling on the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment. That unanimous consent has been denied, and therefore there will be a vote by the House on the bill tomorrow. Pence will be given 24 hours to do the right thing and then impeachment proceedings will begin.

I’ve seen a lot of people asking why they have to wait so long, and why they can’t vote on the bill today. That is, in fact, exactly what they asked for unanimous consent on. You cannot introduce a bill and vote on it on the same day; that’s been a rule for several years now, and it’s a rule that makes good sense– remember, a lot of the bills passed can be hundreds of pages long and complicated, so it makes sense to give people enough time to read the final version of the bill before they vote on it. Now, of course, you don’t need a full day to read a two-page resolution, but the rule still stands. The House can break their own rules with unanimous consent— in other words, if no House member disagrees with breaking the rule, a rule can be broken. But since they didn’t get that unanimous consent– the Republicans blocked it– they have to go to a full vote, and therefore have to wait until tomorrow, when the resolution will most assuredly pass.

Now, in theory, and at least as far as I know, they could also formally introduce the impeachment article or articles (more than one Congressperson has announced that they’re working on them, and I’m not sure who wrote the final text) today, and then again, in theory and as far as I know, they could vote on them or at least get the process started on Tuesday. They’re waiting an extra day to give Pence his 24 hours basically as a strategic measure, which … well, you can decide on your own whether that’s a good idea or not, given that Mitch McConnell has refused to bring the Senate back into session before the 19th. The resolution on Pence is something the House can do on its own. Impeachment is not. The only way to get that done any faster is if, oh, say, Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski were to agree to caucus with the Democrats for a while, giving them the majority immediately and making Chuck Schumer the Majority Leader. Otherwise, the Dem majority doesn’t actually kick in until Kamala Harris is Vice-President.

(EDIT: It does look like the impeachment articles have been formally introduced.)

(Don’t ask me what happens if Pence does invoke the 25th. I don’t even know if there are rules for that, or whether Pence is for-real President or acting President or what if the Beast is removed via that method. I have no idea who casts tie breaking votes in the Senate under those circumstances, but it definitely wouldn’t be Harris before the 20th, so it probably doesn’t actually matter.)

(I’m also not sure exactly how the 14th Amendment applies to all of this– I know the Senate and the House can expel their own members, and they’ve used this power in the past, but I have no idea how the law works regarding declaring that someone cannot run for office again. I’ll look into it.)

Anyway, hopefully this is helpful, and again– I’m not an expert, so if you see something I’m wrong about, let me know.

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Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.

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