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Alejandro Mayorkas

Senate GOP divisions scuttle possible deal on Mayorkas impeachment trial

Senators were unable to strike a deal Tuesday outlining the impeachment trial of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, setting up potentially raucous proceedings Wednesday ahead of a likely vote to dismiss the charges.

We scooped Tuesday night that there were several GOP objections to a time agreement that would have allowed 90 minutes of debate ahead of votes on two Republican motions — one to establish a full trial, and another to create a trial committee. The deal would have then allowed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to move to dismiss both impeachment articles.

What’s next: The rejection of any time agreement sets the stage for a likely conservative revolt on the Senate floor.

Republicans can — and are expected to — make points of order or parliamentary inquiries directed at Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who as president pro tempore will be in charge of the floor. The expectation is that Murray would eventually deem those dilatory and recognize Schumer to offer a motion to dismiss the charges.

GOP hardliners argued that hammering out a deal with Democrats — even one that gives Republicans time to make their case — essentially helps Schumer dispose of the impeachment articles more efficiently.

“I don’t think we should be negotiating with the arsonists here,” Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.) told us. “If Chuck Schumer wants to blow up impeachment trials forever, he ought to own that.”

Schmitt was among those who objected to the agreement, which was “hotlined” to Senate offices late Tuesday afternoon. Other conservatives noted that adding time for debate on the front end wouldn’t change the final result, which they believe will be a successful vote to scrap the trial.

“The outcome is the same either way,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) added. “If we do a bunch of talky-talk and then we vote to table or dismiss, it’s the same thing functionally.”

It remains unclear, however, whether Democrats will be united on the dismissal motions. If they vote in unison, they can end the trial without GOP help. If there’s even one Democratic defection, they’ll need at least one Republican to vote with them.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who’s up for reelection this year in a red state, will be among those to watch. So will Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), who never telegraphs her votes ahead of time.

GOP divisions: Some Republicans argued during their closed-door lunch on Tuesday that their conference should accept this type of arrangement because, if Democrats have the votes to bypass the trial anyway, Republicans would at least be able to make their case before that happens. This would also give the GOP a forum to bash Mayorkas and, by extension, President Joe Biden, over their handling of the border.

“For those of us who would like to have some kind of discussion or debate, [this] offers us an opportunity,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said.

Republicans have argued that dismissing or tabling the issue before a trial is even held would set a dangerous precedent allowing future Senates to simply bypass the trial process if the House is controlled by the other party.

Democrats, however, say the impeachment articles don’t actually allege a high crime or misdemeanor and are borne simply out of a policy disagreement with the executive branch.

Andrew Desiderio

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