The Senate approved the measure to move forward with former President Donald Trump’s impeachment Tuesday with a 56-44 vote in the upper chamber, approving of its constitutionality.
Six Republicans voted with Democrats to greenlight the process, including Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, all of whom, excluding Cassidy, had already opposed a measure from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul last month to dismiss the trial on the same question, declaring it unconstitutional.
“Senate shall proceed with the trial,” Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont declared presiding over the trial. While the role is traditionally reserved for the chief justice of the Supreme Court, as is stipulated in the Constitution and followed by Justice John Roberts presiding last year, Leahy is presiding following the current chief justice’s refusal.
The Senate adopted the trial rules by an 89-11 vote before hours of arguments debating the constitutional question of whether Congress could impeach a president already out of office. Tuesday’s vote keeps in motion the proceedings, which are expected to last about two weeks after the House indicted then-President Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” charging him with being solely responsible for the attacks on the U.S. Capitol building in early January.
The article of impeachment was drafted less than a week after a horde of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol, interfering with congressional efforts to certify the results of the November presidential election.
The snap impeachment, passed without a single hearing or witness one week after the attack, now stands to interfere with President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office by putting a hold on other Senate business until the trial has concluded. Also on hold is the latest round of coronavirus stimulus.