Procedural questions to shape impeachment trajectory

House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that the House of Representatives will proceed with articles of impeachment against President Trump. House Representatives are expected to vote on impeachment before the year ends, which will trigger a trial in the Senate.

David Bateman, professor of government at Cornell University, studies American state constitutions and state legislative behavior. He says that it might just take a few Republican members shifting their positions for conviction to be possible in the Senate.


Bateman says:

“Nancy Pelosi’s announcement means that it is almost certain that the president will be impeached, leaving his fate in the hands of a friendly – but not warm – Senate. What we should watch for now are how broad the articles are, and whether they are voted on individually or as a package.

“If they go the first route, Democrats run the risk of losing on some, but also increase their odds of picking up a few Republican votes. If they go the second route, they’ll be able to make the strongest substantive case but almost guarantee a straight partisan vote.

“In the Senate, we will want to watch for any signs of bipartisan agreement on procedural questions. This will be an important indication of whether any Republican senators are seriously considering conviction. Finally, we’ll want to watch whether any Republican senators – who will be silent during the floor trial – show signs of wavering. It might just take a few for the dam to burst, but it will likely require clear statements that they’re considering voting to convict.” 

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