Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who displaced McConnell as the chamber’s leader after Democrats won two Georgia runoff elections this month, announced the move on the Senate floor on Friday.
Schumer did not say when Trump’s second impeachment trial would begin. But he emphasized the need to move quickly on confirmation of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet and other key administration officials.
“The House will deliver the article of impeachment to the Senate. The Senate will conduct a trial of the impeachment of Donald Trump. It will be a full trial. It will be a fair trial,” Schumer said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed the plan in a statement.
His remarks came the morning after McConnell asked the House to delay sending the charges until next Thursday, and called on Schumer to postpone the trial until mid-February to give Trump more time to prepare a defense against the charge that he incited an insurrection by his supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“This impeachment began with an unprecedentedly fast and minimal process over in the House,” McConnell said on Friday. “The sequel cannot be an insufficient Senate process that denies former President Trump his due process or damages the Senate or the presidency itself.”
Senate rules call for an impeachment trial to begin at 1 p.m. on the day after articles of impeachment are delivered to the upper legislative chamber of Congress, except for Sundays.
But Senator Richard Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told MSNBC that lawmakers would “sit down and map this out as best we can, use every available minute.”
The moves come as Schumer and McConnell are struggling to assert control in a 50-50 chamber where Democrats hold a razor-thin majority thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.
“I can’t imagine that both McConnell and Schumer don’t want to have a little more structure here, and particularly Schumer, leave a little more time to move forward with the early Biden decisions before we get locked into the trial,” Republican Senator Roy Blunt told reporters.
McConnell has insisted that Democrats provide a guarantee that they will not end the legislative filibuster, which gives the minority Republicans the power to block legislation being pushed by the new Biden administration.
Schumer rejected McConnell’s demand on Friday, calling it an “unacceptable proposal.”
McConnell refused to concede, saying that maintaining the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold for advancing most legislation was a linchpin for the power-sharing agreement cobbled together in 2001, the last time the Senate was split 50-50.
Both the trial and the battle over Senate operations could distract from Biden’s efforts to push an ambitious legislative agenda through Congress, including nearly $2 trillion in fresh Covid-19 relief for Americans and US businesses, as well as the need to confirm his Cabinet nominees.
Trump last week became the first president in US history to be impeached twice, and when the Senate convenes for his trial will be the first president tried after leaving office, for his alleged role in urging his supporters to storm the Capitol in an attack that left five dead.
Ten House Republicans joined Democrats on Jan. 13 in impeaching him. The support of at least 17 Senate Republicans would be needed to convict him; a separate vote would then be needed to ban him from running for office again.
Such a vote could signal that senior Republicans were eager to remove Trump as the de facto leader of their party; he has said he may seek to run again in 2024.
Trump’s fate ultimately could depend on McConnell, whose position is likely to influence other Republican lawmakers. The Kentucky Republican said this week that the mob was “fed lies” and “provoked by the president and other powerful people.”