House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) this week sent the Senate an article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump. The Senate trial is expected to begin the week of Feb. 8, affording the Senate time to swiftly confirm President Joe Biden’s cabinet.
The Constitution is clear that the chief justice of the Supreme Court presides over the impeachment trial of a sitting president, but it is ambiguous about who should preside if the president has left office. For this trial, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside over the impeachment; the decision was made by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Senate Set to Reach Organizing Agreement
The Senate is close to passing an organizing agreement, which is required in the case of a 50–50 split between Democrats and Republicans. The majority and minority leaders must agree on Senate operations, such as committee assignments and the procedure for tied votes at the committee level; the full Senate must approve the agreement.
The vote will come after McConnell this week dropped his demand for Schumer to commit to retaining the legislative filibuster option in the agreement. McConnell’s demand had created a stalemate with his Democratic colleagues.
COVID-19 Progress on Capitol Hill
As Biden continues to push for pandemic relief, Democratic leaders in the coming weeks will have to choose between reaching bipartisan consensus on COVID-19 legislation or pursuing a more partisan approach through budget reconciliation.
Biden last week signed various executive orders related to COVID-19, complementing his larger COVID-19 relief proposal. However, Senate Republicans continue to balk at the $1.9 trillion price tag of Biden’s proposal and believe it does not sufficiently target immediate needs. Democrats have the option of pushing COVID-19 relief as part of budget reconciliation, which would remove the filibuster as an obstacle to passage. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) signaled the House soon might initiate the reconciliation process, which could reach the floor as early as February.
House Health Committee Rosters Announced
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce — which has jurisdiction over many issues important to essential hospitals, including Medicaid, parts of Medicare, and the 340B Drug Pricing Program — added 13 new members to its roster, five Democrats and eight Republicans:
- Kelly Armstrong (R-ND);
- Angie Craig (D-MN);
- Dan Crenshaw (R-TX);
- John Curtis (R-UT);
- Neal Dunn (R-FL);
- Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX);
- John Joyce (R-PA);
- Debbie Lesko (R-AZ);
- Gary Palmer (R-AL);
- Greg Pence (R-IN);
- Kathleen Rice (D-NY);
- Kim Schrier (D-WA); and
- Lori Trahan (D-MA).
Rep. Brett Gutherie (R-KY) was named ranking member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee.
The House Committee on Ways and Means, which has jurisdiction over parts of Medicare and the tax code, added four new members to its roster, one Democrat and three Republicans:
- Kevin Hern (R-OK);
- Carol Miller (R-WV);
- Stacey Plaskett (D-VI); and
- Lloyd Smucker (R-PA).