Senate impeachment trial rules call for vote on witnesses, but no motion to dismiss

The organizing resolution for President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE’s impeachment trial will require that senators debate and vote on a motion to subpoena additional witnesses but not on a motion to dismiss articles of impeachment, say GOP senators who have viewed the resolution.

Language to require a debate and vote on witnesses after the House impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers have made their arguments was strongly supported by Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus New polls show tight races for Graham, McConnell McConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill MORE (R-Maine), who has come under pressure from Democrats.

Senators would have been able to make motions to subpoena additional witnesses after phase one of the trial — and Senate Democrats have pledged to force such votes — but Collins’s language now formally ensures that the debate and vote will happen.


“I have been working with — it’s obvious who now — Sen. [Lisa] Murkowski [R-Alaska,] Sen. [Mitt] Romney [R-Utah,] and Sen. [Lamar] Alexander [R-Tenn.] to ensure there would be a roll call vote on whether or not witnesses should be called after we’ve heard the case and submitted our own questions,” Collins told reporters Wednesday.

In this respect, the organizing resolution for the Trump trial mirrors the resolution the Senate adopted 100-0 at the start of former President Clinton's trial, which guaranteed a vote on witnesses.

The organizing resolution that McConnell is circulating, however, does not make a specific provision for a debate and vote on a motion to immediately dismiss articles of impeachment, something that the Clinton organizing resolution included.

Alexander said the resolution McConnell will advance is “fundamentally” the same as the Clinton resolution.

“It guarantees a right to vote on witnesses after we’ve heard the arguments and asked our questions. And it does not allow for an early motion to dismiss, which is good, I think,” he said.