PBS NewsHour


Senate nearing a deal on start of an impeachment trial

Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are nearing a deal to begin an impeachment trial for former President Trump on Feb. 8, as they continue to iron out the final details including the length of a trial and allowing witnesses. This comes amid debates over sharing power in a 50-50 Senate. Dan Bush joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

AIRED: January 22, 2021 | 0:03:10

JUDY WOODRUFF: And now we turn our attention to Capitol Hill,

and to our Dan Bush, who is tracking the action there.

So, Dan, some late developments

late this afternoon, early this evening, on the timing for that impeachment trial.

DANIEL BUSH: That's right, Judy.

So much is fluid now. And it's been changing by the hour, but the "NewsHour" learned that Senate

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Senate Republican leader,

Mitch McConnell, are nearing a deal to begin the trial the week of February 8.

Schumer is about to speak a little while, momentarily even, on the Senate floor to provide

more details. There's still a lot we don't know, how long will it

last,whether there will be witnesses or not. Those details are being ironed out.

Democrats do want a couple of things. We know that. They'd like to split up the days, that is,

to conduct other Senate business, confirm President Biden's nominees,

take up COVID relief while they conduct the Senate trial. Republicans have pushed back on that.

We will see where the deal ends up on that.

One thing, though, Judy. In the last couple of days,

I can say that support for conviction of President Trump, former President Trump,

among Republicans has been going down. Several Republicans have been telling

me that they just think that impeaching a former president is unconstitutional.

So, there's a lot of division both about the trial when it starts, but even how it

will get under way. And we should see more details on that in the next couple of hours.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you have that impeachment trial pending, Dan.

You also have this very busy

agenda on the part of the new president. What are the folks in Congress telling you

about their ability to do all of this at the same time? How confident are they can get it all done?

DANIEL BUSH: Well, right now, all eyes are on the Senate. And that's because

McConnell and Schumer have yet to come up with an agreement

for the rules for the new Senate, how to do this power-sharing agreement in a 50/50 split.

Because of that, essentially, right now, most work is on hold, except for some confirmations.

Right now, even Republicans are technically still chairing committees, even though Democrats are

now in charge of the Senate. They have to work out how this is all going to function.

And the main sticking point is the legislative filibuster. McConnell has requested that Democrats

ensure they don't do away with it. Chuck Schumer said on the floor earlier today

that that is unacceptable and he won't accept it. Democrats want to make sure that,

essentially, they keep that option the table.

This is a difficult moment for Democrats.

Mitch McConnell is essentially saying, accede to some of our requests.

Joe Biden, in his inaugural address, said to have some unity. We will see if that happens.

JUDY WOODRUFF: No question. It's all about how they work out the majority, whether it's 51 or 60,

big question to be resolved.

Dan Bush, thanks so much.