Trump Impeached a Second Time
The House on Wednesday impeached President Trump for the second time in 13 months, this time for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in trying to overturn the results of the election and encouraging a mob of supporters to march on the Capitol a week ago as Congress was affirming President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Trump, already one of only three presidents to be impeached, becomes the first president to be impeached twice.
Unlike in December 2019, when all House Republicans opposed Trump’s first impeachment and defended the president, 10 Republicans joined Democrats Wednesday in supporting the incitement charge, making it the most bipartisan impeachment vote in U.S. history. The final tally was 232 to 197.
Still, the vote followed hours of impassioned debate during which Democrats and Republicans argued whether the impeachment was the most appropriate remedy with just seven days left in Trump’s term, whether the process was too rushed and whether it would help reestablish democratic norms and ensure the safety of the republic or further inflame the divisions that have riven the nation.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told lawmakers that Trump must be impeached, and convicted by the Senate.
“We know we experienced the insurrection that violated the sanctity of the people's capital and attempted to overturn the duly recorded will of the American people. And we know that the President of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country,” she said. “He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”
She later added: “It gives me no pleasure to say this — it breaks my heart.”
Few Republicans defended Trump, with many instead criticizing the impeachment process or comparing the storming of the Capitol and the effort to stop the constitutional election process to last year’s Black Lives Matter protests.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who in November had propagated Trump’s false claim that he won the election and objected to certification of the Electoral College results, on Wednesday said that Biden had won the election. He criticized last week’s violence and said that Trump “bears responsibility” for the attack on the Capitol. But he warned that impeachment would “further fan the flames of partisan division” and said that a fact-finding commission and a censure resolution instead “would be prudent.”
Trump told reporters Tuesday that his speech to supporters gathered in Washington last week was “totally appropriate” and that another impeachment push was “causing tremendous anger.” On Wednesday, the president called on Americans to help ensure a peaceful and orderly transition of power, saying in a statement that “there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind.”
What’s next: The timing of a Senate trial remains uncertain. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will not agree to a Democratic request to bring the Senate back into session before its scheduled January 19 return, meaning that a trial won’t happen until after Trump is out of office. The timing of a trial will also depend on when the House sends the article of impeachment to the Senate.
McConnell told GOP colleagues Wednesday that he has not made a final decision on whether he will vote to convict Trump. The New York Times reported Tuesday that McConnell has told associates that he believes Trump’s actions are impeachable — and that he was pleased that the impeachment effort would make it easier for the Republican Party to move on from Trump.
Schumer Presses Biden to Seek More than $1.3 Trillion Covid Relief Package: Report
President-elect Joe Biden is expected to announce details of his coronavirus and economic relief proposal on Thursday. As Biden and Democrats prepare their spending plans, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who is set to become the Senate Majority Leader, has pressed Biden to seek a package totaling more than $1.3 trillion, Bloomberg News reports. More from Bloomberg’s Erik Wasson and Laura Davison:
“Biden will seek a deal with Republicans on the next round of Covid-19 relief, rather than attempting to ram a package through without their support, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. The new president could pass some stimulus items using a special budget tool with just the votes of the 50 Democrats and independents in the chamber, but prefers to try a bipartisan approach first.”
Biden’s proposal is expected to call for funding for vaccinations, aid to state and local governments, increased direct payments of $2,000 and additional unemployment insurance. Biden is expected to seek a larger stimulus and infrastructure package later on, after the initial relief bill. See below for more on what might be in that larger package.
Democrats Plan a Major End Run Around the GOP
You’ll probably be hearing a lot about “budget reconciliation” in the coming weeks, as Democrats work to pass a substantial spending package in the early days of the Biden administration. The term refers to the legislative rule that allows the Senate to bypass a filibuster threat and approve one bill pertaining to spending and taxes each fiscal year with just 50 votes — the size of the Democratic Senate caucus in the new Congress.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who will chair the Budget Committee, told Politico this week that he has big plans for the reconciliation maneuver. “Understanding that my Republican colleagues have in the past — both under Bush and certainly under Trump — used reconciliation for massive tax breaks for the rich and large corporations, and they’ve also used reconciliation to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act, I’m going to use reconciliation too, but in a very different way,” Sanders said. “As we speak, my staff and I are working. We’re working with Biden’s people. We’re working with Democratic leadership. We’ll be working with my colleagues in the House to figure out how we can come up with the most aggressive reconciliation bill to address the suffering of the American working families today.”
Not everything in Joe Biden’s agenda can pass via reconciliation — increasing the minimum wage, for example, would probably not be allowed, due to the rules surrounding the legislative option. But there are plenty of major agenda items that could conceivably be included in such a bill, with the main limit being the willingness of conservative Democrats such as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to go along with it.
Vox’s Dylan Matthews rounded up some of the items included in Biden’s agenda that conceivably be included in one or more reconciliation bills:
- Covid relief checks increased to $2,000, up from the current $600;
- Billions in aid for state and local governments;
- More money for vaccine research and distribution;
- A $3,000-per-year child allowance;
- Federal vouchers for housing;
- Paid maternal and sick leave;
- Universal pre-K;
- Federal funding for child care;
- $2 trillion to invest in clean energy and climate research;
- Debt forgiveness for student loans, worth up to $10,000;
- Free community college;
- Lowering the Medicare eligibility to age 60;
- Creating a public option for health insurance within the Affordable Care Act;
- Increasing taxes on the corporation and the rich.
There are likely additional possibilities, but even passing some of them could “transform American life dramatically,” Matthews says. “An America where pre-K is universal and child care is affordable for all, with trillions in clean energy investment, free community college, paid maternity leave, a child allowance for parents, and a housing program that nearly eliminates homelessness, is a very different America,” Matthews writes. “And it is in reach for the Biden administration.”
A major constraint: As readers familiar with the passage of the 2017 Republican tax cuts may remember, reconciliation faces a major hurdle known as the Byrd Rule, which among other things says that the legislation cannot increase the deficit beyond a 10-year window. That could limit severely the size and scope of an eventual package. But Biden has said that he wants to raise taxes on the rich and corporations, which could give him as much as $4 trillion to cover the cost of new spending and go a long way toward creating the FDR-size presidency he has said he wants to achieve.
Number of the Day: $3.3 Billion
The omnibus and coronavirus relief package signed into law in December includes a tax break that could be worth billions of dollars for the owners of rental properties. In a mere 116 words, the provision allows rental owners to depreciate their properties over 30 years, rather than the 40 years under current law.
Proponents of the reduced depreciation schedule say it simply corrects an error introduced by the 2017 Republican tax overhaul. Whatever the cause, the benefits are clear. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the altered rule will cost $3.3 billion in lost tax revenue over 10 years — and that rental owners will gain about $1.2 billion by the end of the 2021 fiscal year alone. (h/t Roll Call)
Quote of the Day
“The first couple of weeks it was all: Why aren’t they all done, why aren’t you getting them out fast enough? The next story is going to be: There’s hundreds of thousands of people waiting for the vaccines and we don’t have any.”
– Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) at a news briefing Tuesday, as quoted by Bloomberg News in a piece on the concerns raised by the Trump administration’s vaccine rollout changes meant to expand and speed Covid immunizations.