This week: Senate starts Trump trial as Democrats draft coronavirus bill
© Greg Nash

The Senate will start a historic second impeachment trial of former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: LeBron James's 'racist rants' are divisive, nasty North Carolina man accused of fraudulently obtaining .5M in PPP loans Biden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies MORE this week, nearly five weeks after the Capitol attack. 

The trial is set to start on Tuesday, with senators suggesting that it could wrap up in roughly a week. 

The trial will put Trump, and divisions within the GOP about his future role in the party, back under the spotlight, eating up political oxygen even as the Biden administration is still trying to get off the ground. 


As of Sunday night, Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate to vote next week on repealing Trump methane rule  Joe Lieberman to push senators on DC statehood On The Money: Yellen touts 'whole-of-economy' plan to fight climate change | Senate GOP adopts symbolic earmark ban, digs in on debt limit MORE (D-N.Y.) has offered no clues about the organization of the trial or its time frame as he’s continued to negotiate with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTim Scott to deliver GOP response to Biden's speech to Congress GOP state attorneys general urge Biden, Congress not to expand Supreme Court The Memo: Washington's fake debate on 'bipartisanship' MORE (R-Ky). 

Trump’s first trial lasted 21 days. His second is expected to be considerably shorter, as both sides coalesce behind not trying to call witnesses and potentially moving to a final vote within a matter of days. 

“I just can’t imagine that it’s going to go beyond a week,” Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerBiden administration faces big decision on whether to wade into Dakota Access fight OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies Senate GOP pushes back on list of participants in oil and gas leasing forum MORE (R-N.D.) told The Hill. “I don’t think there’s a lot of enthusiasm for this thing from anybody.” 

The first phase of the 2020 trial lasted eight days: Three days per side for House impeachment managers and the president’s lawyers to present their case and two days for the Senate to ask questions. If the second trial follows a similar timeline that would guarantee that it lasts at least eight days. 

But senators have also said they don’t believe they should be bound by the 2020 trial given the differences in the cases. 

The 2020 trial involved two articles of impeachment and a complex case that required familiarizing both the public and the Senate with a large cast of characters involved with Trump’s policy decisions toward Ukraine. 


This year’s trial, in contrast, has one article of impeachment that involves events that played out in public view in real time. Trump spoke near the White House on Jan. 6 urging his supporters to march to the Capitol, where then-Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceIf Trump runs again, will he be coronated or primaried? Hispanic Caucus energized by first Biden meeting Simon & Schuster rejects employees' call to drop Pence book deal MORE and lawmakers were counting the Electoral College vote. 

The attack on the Capitol was televised and footage from inside the building flooded social media during the riot. 

The House impeachment managers invited Trump to testify under oath. Trump’s lawyers, however, rejected the request and the idea got bipartisan pushback from senators who warned it would result in chaos. 

Sources told The New York Times that the House impeachment managers are preparing to skip trying to call witnesses and finish the trial in as little as a week. 

Schumer’s office is expected to accommodate a request from one of Trump’s lawyers that the trial not be conducted on the Jewish Sabbath. Lawyer David Schoen asked that the trial be paused if not finished by Friday at 5:24 pm and then reconvene on Sunday. 

Trump’s trial puts the Senate in the middle of murky political waters. 

It’s the first impeachment trial for a president already out of office and the first presidential impeachment trial not to be overseen by the chief justice. Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyCapitol Police chief: Threats against lawmakers up nearly 65 percent since last year Senate GOP faces post-Trump spending brawl Senate Democrats call on Biden to restore oversight of semiautomatic and sniper rifle exports MORE (D-Vt.), the Senate president pro tem, will instead preside. 

The trial is expected to hand Trump his second acquittal. Though Republicans fumed in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol attack, Democrats acknowledge they won’t get 67 votes after 45 GOP senators backed an effort questioning the constitutionality of holding a trial after a president leaves office. 

GOP Sens. Ben SasseBen SasseSenate GOP keeps symbolic earmark ban On The Money: Senate GOP faces post-Trump spending brawl | Senate confirms SEC chief Gensler to full five-year term | Left-leaning group raises concerns about SALT cap repeal Senate GOP faces post-Trump spending brawl MORE (Neb.), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeySasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote Philly GOP commissioner on censures: 'I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying' Toomey censured by several Pennsylvania county GOP committees over impeachment vote MORE (Pa.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsHawley votes against anti-Asian hate crime bill Senate passes anti-Asian hate crimes bill Senate to vote next week on repealing Trump methane rule  MORE (Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Chauvin conviction puts renewed focus on police reform GOP sees immigration as path to regain power Harris casts tiebreaking vote to advance Biden nominee MORE (Alaska) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyChipotle says raising minimum wage would mean 'manageable' menu price hike GOP senator introduces bill to make DC part of Maryland McDaniel told RNC officials she has considered bid for Michigan governor MORE (Utah) were the only Republicans who voted to table the effort by Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHawley votes against anti-Asian hate crime bill Hillicon Valley: Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing | Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech Senate panel greenlights sweeping China policy bill MORE (R-Ky.). None have said how they will vote at the end of the trial. 

McConnell has also sidestepped saying how he will vote. 

“I want to listen to the arguments. I think that's what we ought to do. That's what I said before it started,” he told reporters last week. “That's still my view.” 


Democrats are moving quickly to craft a $1.9 trillion coronavirus package as they prepare to hold a vote in the House later this month. 

Both chambers passed a budget resolution on Friday that greenlights passing coronavirus legislation through reconciliation — a tool that will let them bypass the 60-vote legislative filibuster, and the need for GOP support, in the Senate.

Though the House is out of session this week, the committees are expected to spend the week drafting legislation in line with President Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal. 

“Next week, we will be writing the legislation to create a path to final passage for the Biden American Rescue Plan, so that we can finish our work before the end of February. Thank you to our Chairs for their knowledge and values-based leadership and to our Members for their courage,” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Pelosi pushes for drug pricing measure | South Africa to resume administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine | Early data indicate Pfizer, Moderna vaccines safe for pregnant women Allow a vote on the 'Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act' Female Republicans 'horrified' by male GOP lawmaker's description of Cheney: report MORE (D-Calif.) wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter on Friday. 

Democrats will need to work out several internal divisions about the details of the bill as they prepare to move forward. 

Though Democrats say they hope to have GOP support for the final bill, no Republican has signaled support for passing a $1.9 trillion package less than two months after Congress approved an additional $900 billion in coronavirus relief. 


If Democrats try to pass a bill on their own they face a slim margin in the House and no room for error in the Senate, where they would need all of the 50-member Democratic caucus. 

Democrats are debating tightening eligibility for the next round of stimulus checks. 

Biden has proposed a $1,400 check, but has stayed away from laying down markers on income eligibility. 

Under the previous rounds of payments individuals who made up to $75,000 and couples who made up to $150,000 received a full check, with the amount phasing down after that. 

Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenFive takeaways from Biden's climate summit As Americans struggle, Biden's tax plan helps blue states and foreign nations DC set for jam-packed Earth Day as Biden announces Paris emissions goal MORE told CNN that Americans who make $60,000 should get a check. 

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOn The Money: White House sees GOP infrastructure plan as starting point | Biden to propose capital gains tax hike House approves bill to make DC a state NRA unveils ad campaign to push back on Biden's gun agenda MORE (D-W.Va.), meanwhile, is proposing that individuals who make up to $50,000 and couples who make up to $100,000 should get a full check with the amount phasing down until it hits an income threshold of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples. 


But progressives warned over the weekend against changing the income threshold for receiving a full payment. 

“I strongly oppose lowering income eligibility for direct payments from $75,000 to $50,000 for individuals and $150,000 to $100,000 for couples. In these difficult times, ALL working class people deserve the full $1,400. Last I heard, someone making $55,000 a year is not ‘rich,’ ” tweeted Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersPelosi pushes for drug pricing measure amid uncertainty from White House White House sees GOP proposal as legitimate starting point The Memo: Washington's fake debate on 'bipartisanship' MORE (I-Vt.). 


The Senate will vote on Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughOvernight Defense: Biden officially rolls out Afghanistan withdrawal plan | Probe finds issues with DC Guard helicopter use during June protests Congress must address the toxic exposure our veterans have endured Veterans shouldn't have to wait for quality care MORE’s nomination to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

The vote, set for Monday at 5:30 p.m., will likely make McDonough the final Cabinet pick that Biden gets confirmed until after the impeachment trial is over. McDonough previously served as then-President Obama’s chief of staff. 

Democrats had wanted to deal with nominations and legislation in the morning and the trial in the afternoon, but Republicans have signaled they will oppose that.