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Impeachment presents governing challenge for Senate Democrats

James Antle of the Washington Examiner assesses the Trump impeachment’s potential impacts for U.S. Senate Democrats who would like to maintain power beyond 2022.

Senate Democrats are getting ready to conduct a second impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump on the charge of inciting an insurrection even as they seek to advance the legislative agenda and nominations of the new president.

President Biden has said Trump’s trial “has to happen” but expressed hope that “Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation.” The White House has otherwise taken a hands-off approach and instead emphasized the nearly $2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill and other legislative priorities. …

… Opposition to Trump remains a unifying force in a Democratic Party otherwise riven by divisions between centrists and liberals, even as many would like to turn public attention toward Biden. The Senate, under Republican control until the day Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were inaugurated, is rushing to make up for lost time on confirming executive branch nominees. Yet Trump’s role in election protests that culminated in an attack on the U.S. Capitol during the Electoral College certification still looms large. …

… Still, Democratic insiders know the party will ultimately be judged by governing success. …

… Trump left office at the conclusion of his term despite blaming voter fraud for his election loss. He is gone but not forgotten. Biden overtly mentioned the “violence” that “sought to shake this Capitol’s very foundation” and indirectly criticized Trump throughout his inaugural address. …

… Nevertheless, Democrats have a relatively short period of time to put their own mark on Washington before midterm elections next year. The party will be defending historically narrow majorities in both houses of Congress, including a 50-50 deadlocked Senate they control only through Harris’s tiebreaking vote.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...