Senate awaits article after Trump impeachment

Biden picks Jaime Harrison for DNC chairman

President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday announced his picks for Democratic leadership that include Jaime Harrison, a U.S. Senate candidate from South Carolina in November’s election, as Democratic National Committee chairman.

The move comes ahead of the 2022 election cycle in which Democrats will look to retain control of the Senate and House.

Harrison, who previously chaired the South Carolina Democratic Party, lost to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. by 11 percentage points in the November election. It was a disappointing finish after Harrison brought in a record fundraising haul, but one that built his name in the party’s ranks.

The DNC is set to vote on its leadership next week. Voting will close Thursday.

Harrison would replace Tom Perez, who opted against running for a second term. Harrison unsuccessfully ran for DNC party chair against Perez in 2017. Although Harrison isn’t guaranteed the leadership position, the party historically defers to the president’s choice.

Biden also announced other DNC officers that include three women he considered for vice president who turned into key campaign surrogates: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Michigan Gov. Whitmer and Illinois U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth. Each were named party vice chairs along with Rep. Filemon Vela Jr. of Texas.

“This group of individuals represent the very best of the Democratic Party, “Biden said in a statement. “Their stories and long histories of activism and work reflects our party’s values and the diversity that make us so strong.”

— Joey Garrison

What’s in Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package

President-elect Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion spending package aims to speed distribution of the coronavirus vaccines and provide economic relief caused by the pandemic.

The package proposal includes investing $20 billion in a national vaccination program, $1,400 stimulus checks and expanding unemployment insurance supplements to $400 per week.

Biden’s proposed relief package comes several weeks after Congress passed a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package in December, which the president-elect said at the time was a “down payment.”

The plan also includes: 

  • $170 billion to help reopen schools, as well as provide financial relief to students
  • Expand to 14 weeks paid sick and family and medical leave 
  • $25 billion in rental assistance and an addition $5 billion to cover home energy and water costs
  • Extending the 15 percent Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit increase to September 2021
  • $15 billion for grants to more than 1 million small businesses
  • A $20 billion investment to Indian Country to support tribal governments’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Read the full story.

— Rebecca Morin

GOP Sen. Murkowski, who called for Trump’s resignation, says House right to impeach

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said the House was right to impeach President Trump but wouldn’t say how she will vote on the charge against him when the case is brought before the Senate.

Murkowski, one of several congressional Republicans who have called for the president to resign, said she would listen to the case brought before the Senate — noting the stark differences to Trump’s last impeachment.

“This second impeachment stands in stark contrast to what we faced last January—an impeachment that was partisan from the beginning and left no opportunity for a fair trial in the Senate,” Murkowski said of the bipartisan condemnation Wednesday of the president’s role in the violence at the U.S. Capitol. “Such unlawful actions cannot go without consequence and the House has responded swiftly, and I believe, appropriately, with impeachment.”

Murkowski, a key swing vote in the Senate, voted to acquit Trump last year during his first impeachment after being eyed as one of the possible Republican defectors. Only one Republican, Sen. Mitt Romney, voted in favor of either of the two impeachment charges.

Like last year, Murkowski vowed to keep an open mind and hear the arguments presented by both sides before announcing how she will vote.

“When the Article of Impeachment comes to the Senate, I will follow the oath I made when sworn as a U.S. Senator,” she said. “I will listen carefully and consider the arguments of both sides, and will then announce how I will vote.”

Murkowski isn’t the only Republican who could vote to convict Trump. Several GOP senators have condemned Trump’s role in the violence at the Capitol and left open the possibility of voting with Democrats. That includes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who told fellow Republicans Wednesday he had not decided how he would vote on Trump’s impeachment charge — a stark contrast to last year when the Kentucky Republican worked with the White House to help in the president’s eventual acquittal.

— Christal Hayes

2 members of Congress ask for cots for National Guardsmen at the Capitol

Two members of the House of Representatives wrote Thursday to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy asking for the Pentagon to provide cots for service members to rest on while off duty.

“With the uncertainty for needed rest and recoup time in flux, and to ensure that the Guard members are fully able to execute their protection mission, we urge you to make available cots or other equipment to more easily facilitate their ability to rest while they are on Capitol grounds,” wrote Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn.

The two lawmakers said they were “disappointed” by images in the media of soldiers sleeping on the floor in the Capitol in between shifts. USA TODAY and other media outlets posted photos of National Guardsmen bivouacked in the Capitol following last week’s riot. DeLauro and McCollum expressed concern after a call with top Army personnel that not all Guard personnel had secured lodging for themselves, and that Washington, D.C.’s convention center may be used to house soldiers.

— Nicholas Wu

Republican Rep. Peter Meijer says he, other members buying body armor

Rep. Peter Meijer, one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach President Donald Trump, said Thursday that he and some of his other colleagues are buying body armor and altering their daily routines due to fear of violence.

“It’s sad that we have to get to that point, but you know our expectation is that someone may try to kill us,” Meijer, R-Mich., said in an interview on MSNBC.

Meijer said that the body armor is a reimbursable purchase they can make.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen next. We weren’t expecting for the Capitol to get overrun for the first time in 200 years,” he said. “And so in this unprecedented environment with an unprecedented degree of fear of divisiveness and hatred, we have to account for every scenario.”

Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on Wednesday for inciting an “insurrection” in last week’s attack on the Capitol that left five people dead. Ten Republicans broke from their party to impeach the president, including GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

Meijer previously said in a statement that he supported impeaching the president because Trump “betrayed his oath of office by seeking to undermine our constitutional process, and he bears responsibility for inciting the insurrection we suffered last week.”

— Rebecca Morin

Proposed legislation to award Officer Eugene Goodman Congressional Gold Medal

In the aftermath of a mob attack on the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., filed legislation to award US Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal for his work during the violent Capitol riot last week.

In a viral video taken during the attack, Goodman, 40, can be seen trying to hold the mob back as it ascended a flight of stairs leading to the Senate Chamber, where lawmakers were still present. Goodman then pushed one of the rioters, causing the crowd to chase him in the opposite direction of the chamber.

“He was diverting people from getting on the Senate floor and getting hostages. It was the smartest thing that he could have ever done,” a colleague of Goodman’s told the Washington Post.

Goodman is a US Army veteran who served in Iraq with the 101st Airborne. He has received a combat infantryman badge for engaging in on-the-ground conflict.

The Congressional Gold Medal can be awarded for various acts of service, including when Congress expresses “its own admiration for acts of heroism,” according to the Congressional Research Service.

“He said he’d do the same thing again. He’s not looking for any accolades,” another friend of Goodman’s said.

– Matthew Brown

Biden cancels Amtrak trip for inauguration over security concerns

President-elect Joe Biden will no longer take an Amtrak train from Delaware to Washington for his inauguration because of security concerns, a person briefed on the decision told The Associated Press.

The president-elect’s decision reflects growing worries over potential threats in the Capitol and across the U.S. in the lead-up to Biden’s inauguration Wednesday.

Security in Washington has ramped up considerably in preparation for the inauguration after the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump. The FBI has warned of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington, D.C., in the days leading up to the event.

During his 36-year Senate career, Biden was known for taking a 90-minute Amtrak trip from his Wilmington, Delaware, home to Washington. He road an Amtrak on his final day as vice president and used a train tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania during the presidential campaign as part of an effort to appeal to blue-collar workers.

On Wednesday, Biden received a briefing from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Secret Service and key members of his national security team.

“The team is engaging with the current administration to gain as much information as possible on the threat picture, and on the preparations being put in place to deter and defend against violent disruptions or attacks,” the Biden transition team said in a statement.

– Associated Press

After House impeaches Trump, Senate awaits article to start trial

The Senate could begin another impeachment trial for President Donald Trump as early as next week after the House voted Wednesday to charge the outgoing president with inciting the insurrection at the Capitol that left five people dead.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday that the chamber could take up the issue at its “first regular meeting following receipt of the article from the House.” But he said a trial couldn’t be held before Trump’s term expires at noon Jan. 20. The Senate next meets on Tuesday.

“Even if the Senate process were to begin this week and move promptly, no final verdict would be reached until after President Trump had left office,” McConnell said.

Senators must first receive the article of impeachment House lawmakers approved Wednesday – and there’s no telling how long they’ll wait.

The Senate must move directly to the trial once it receives the article. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., declined repeatedly to respond to questions about when she would send the article to the Senate. She signed the formal version of the article Wednesday evening, but didn’t answer questions.

It’s possible the trial could occur during the first days of President-elect Joe Biden’s presidency, which begins with his inauguration Wednesday, though unlikely before then.

Trump impeached again:Donald Trump impeached for ‘incitement’ of mob attack on US Capitol

10 Republicans:The 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump: ‘There has never been a greater betrayal by a president’

Since the House passed just one article of impeachment, rather than the two the chamber passed during Trump’s first impeachment in 2019, a Senate trial could be shorter, said a source familiar with the impeachment trial plans, but who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. The source added that witnesses would likely be part of the trial but cautioned that lawmakers were just beginning their work and would be having daily meetings to discuss strategy.

The 100-member Senate will be divided equally between the parties after two Georgia Democrats, who won runoff elections, are sworn in. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will become majority leader because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will break ties.

Schumer said a trial could start immediately if Republicans agreed.

“But make no mistake, there will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate,” Schumer said.

One reason Democrats want to hold a trial even after Trump leaves office is to bar him from future office, if he’s convicted. But conviction requires two-thirds –or 67 votes – in the closely divided Senate.

“The president of the United States incited a violent mob against the duly elected government of the United States in a vicious, depraved and desperate attempt to remain in power,” Schumer said. “For the sake of our democracy, it cannot and must not be tolerated, excused, or go unpunished.”

Senate trial:Senate impeachment trial likely after Biden sworn in; McConnell undecided on vote

Not just the House:From golf pros to the Central Park Carousel, President Donald Trump is rebuffed

House Democratic leaders have offered different strategies about whether to send the article immediately or hold it until after Biden has a chance to get Cabinet nominees confirmed and legislation started.

House Majority Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the article would be sent quickly. But House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said it could wait until after the first 100 days of the Biden administration.

The House voted 232 to 197 to impeach Trump. Ten Republicans joined the Democratic effort – including Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking House Republican – making it the most bipartisan impeachment in history.

“I would hope that they would act as soon as possible,” Hoyer said. “The speaker is talking to Mr. Schumer, and we’ll determine that.”

In preparation for the trial, Pelosi named the lawmakers who will serve as prosecutors at the trial, called managers. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who was previously a constitutional law professor, will lead the prosecution.

Other managers are Democratic Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Diana DeGette of Colorado, Joaquin Castro of Texas, Eric Swalwell of California, Ted Lieu of California, Joe Neguse of Colorado, Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania and Stacey Plaskett, a delegate from the Virgin Islands.

Impeachment takeaways:5 takeaways as the House impeaches Trump for second time

Impeachment trial:Trump impeachment sets up politically perilous Senate trial, possibly threatening Joe Biden’s agenda

Swalwell, Castro and Dean huddled with Pelosi after she signed the article Wednesday to discuss aspects of the trial, including timing.

“We’re discussing that now,” Castro said. “We’ll get it over to the Senate and I’m looking forward to making a case on Donald Trump.”

Dean didn’t support the Senate starting its impeachment trial Wednesday – the first day when the chamber could theoretically act, but also the day of Biden’s inauguration.

“I don’t want to preview it, but certainly not,” Dean said. “We have a president and a vice president to swear in.”

Contributing: Christal Hayes

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