Senators push for new rules now that Trump impeachment battle is over

Senators are pushing for a myriad of changes to how Congress handles articles of impeachment in the wake of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMilitary personnel to handle coronavirus patients at facilities in NYC, New Orleans and Dallas Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has total of 20 patients: report Fauci says that all states should have stay-at-home orders MORE's trial.

With the months-long saga wrapping on Wednesday, senators in both parties are pitching at least three different changes to both the House's and Senate's impeachment rules.

The proposed rules changes underscore that while the proceeding is over, the drama spinning out of the nation's third presidential impeachment is likely to linger.


Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) became the latest senator to propose a change when he announced on Thursday that he will introduce a constitutional amendment to raise the threshold for passing articles of impeachment in the House from a simple majority to three-fifths.

The change would impact impeachment of any public official, not just a president.

β€œIt should be harder – much harder – for either political party to take the process our Founders created as a last resort against a tyrannical leader and use it instead as a tool for the tyranny of a political majority. I look forward to all of my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, joining me in this effort to protect the integrity of our nation and our constitution," Scott said in a statement.

Trying to amend the Constitution is an unlikely, uphill battle given that there have only been 27 constitutional amendments since the nation's founding. To successfully amend the Constitution, the proposed language would first need to be passed by two-thirds of both bodies in Congress or a convention of the states.

It would then need to be ratified by three-fourths of state legislatures or a ratifying convention.

Two other sets of senators are pitching changes to the Senate's rules for handling an impeachment trial.


Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyDemocratic senators ask Pompeo to provide coronavirus aid to Palestinian territories House bill would ban stock trading by members of Congress Lawmakers ask Trump administration to help Gulf oil and gas producers MORE (D-Ore.) will introduce legislation next week that would require the Senate to hear from witnesses in future impeachment trials.

"I will be introducing legislation that would ensure the right of both sides to call relevant witnesses and introduce relevant evidence in any future impeachment trial. By voting down documents and witnesses, the Senate has failed to conduct a full and fair trial, and has set a dangerous precedent," Merkley said.

Republicans rejected several attempts by Democrats to subpoena administration officials, including acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyMeadows joins White House in crisis mode Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House Meadows set to resign from Congress as he moves to White House MORE and former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonChina sees chance to expand global influence amid pandemic Trump ignores science at our peril Bolton defends decision to shutter NSC pandemic office MORE, and get documents related to the Ukraine aid at the outset of the trial.

Instead, Senate Republicans included in its rules resolution language that forced a mid-trial vote on whether or not to allow witnesses. The vote fell short last week with only Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyPoll: More Republican voters think party is more united than Democratic voters Granting cash payments is a conservative principle 7 things to know about the coronavirus stimulus package MORE (R-Utah) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP presses for swift Ratcliffe confirmation to intel post Campaigns pivot toward health awareness as races sidelined by coronavirus Senate eyes quick exit after vote on coronavirus stimulus package MORE (R-Maine) siding with Democrats to pave the way for witnesses.

If they had been successful both sides would have been allowed to request testimony from specific individuals, and the Senate would have then voted on those requests.

Democrats have blasted the impeachment trial as a "sham" and "cover up" because Republicans have blocked new witnesses testimony.

Meanwhile, 16 Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats press Trump, GOP for funding for mail-in ballots Top GOP lawmakers push back on need for special oversight committee for coronavirus aid Stocks move little after record-breaking unemployment claims MORE (R-Ky.), have backed a floated rules change by Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyLawmakers press IRS to get coronavirus checks to seniors Democrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus Cruise lines excluded from Senate's trillion stimulus bill MORE (R-Mo.) that would make House-passed articles of impeachment "deemed" as received if they had not been sent to the Senate within 25 days of passage.

It would also allow a senator to try to dismiss the articles of impeachment.

The rules change was sparked by House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNJ governor calls for assessment of coronavirus response after crisis abates Overnight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims Hillicon Valley: Zoom draws new scrutiny amid virus fallout | Dems step up push for mail-in voting | Google to lift ban on political ads referencing coronavirus MORE (D-Calif.) delaying sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate after they first cleared the House late last year.

Democrats say the hold up allowed them to put a spotlight on their request for new witnesses and to let a slew of new reports come out about Trump's decision to delay Ukraine aid and his effort to get the country to help "look into" Democrats, including former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenOvernight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims The Memo: Scale of economic crisis sends shudders through nation The Hill's Campaign Report: Coronavirus forces Democrats to postpone convention MORE and his son Hunter Biden.

But Hawley told The Hill in a recent interview that he wants to move forward with his proposed rules change so that it would be in place for any potential future trials.

"I think it's a good idea just because I think procedurally we want to make sure that basically the disjuncture between the House and the Senate rules aren't exploited in the future," he said.


The Senate could approve any rules changes in three ways: They could try to go "nuclear" and enact them with a simple majority, something that would likely be difficult given the politically controversial nature of the rules change and the slim GOP majority.

They could also try to garner bipartisan support and pass the rules changes as a standing order or a normal rules change, which would require 60 and 67 votes respectively.

Hawley said he hoped his proposal could get bipartisan support after Trump's impeachment trial, arguing that neither side has "an interest in allowing the House to pass articles, and never have a trial which is what could happen."

Hawley's proposal has been sent to the Senate Rules Committee. Merkley's, because it deals with the Senate rules, is expected to be sent to the same panel.

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Lawmakers already planning more coronavirus stimulus after T package Senate Democrats vow to keep pushing for more funds for mail-in voting MORE (R-Mo.) didn't rule out taking up potential rules changes but indicated he believes senators will want to move on after a months-long impeachment fight.

"It's hard to imagine that there would be [an appetite for changing the rules], and remember changing those rules would take maybe 67 votes," Blunt told The Hill last month. "My guess is that by the time we're done with this impeachment process, there will be almost no interest in talking about it for a while."