WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding impeachment:
‘First this morning, I want to associate myself with a statement made yesterday by one of our distinguished colleagues about the House Democrats treating impeachment like a political toy.
‘Here’s what the senator said: “If it’s serious and urgent, send them over. If it isn’t, don’t.”
‘That was our Democratic colleague the senior senator from California, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.
‘And she wasn’t alone. Quote: “It is time to get on with it.” That’s our Democratic colleague the junior senator from Delaware. Quote: “At some point it’s appropriate to send them and… pass the baton to senators.” Our Democratic colleague the senior senator from Connecticut. Quote: “I think the time has past. She should send the articles.” Our Democratic colleague the junior senator from Connecticut.
‘Now, this is a challenging time to create bipartisan agreement in the Senate. On any subject. But the Speaker of the House has managed to do the impossible.
‘She has created this growing bipartisan unity in the United States Senate… in opposition to her own reckless behavior.
‘Senators may not agree on much, but it appears most of us still recognize a threat to our institution when we see one.
‘Article I, Section 3 says: “The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments.” Period. The House can begin the process, and Speaker Pelosi’s majority has certainly done that. But the Senate alone can resolve it.
‘And yet for weeks now, the House majority has blocked the Senate from fulfilling our constitutional duty. In a precedent-breaking display of partisanship, the Speaker has refused to let her own allegations proceed normally to trial unless she gets to hand-design various elements of our Senate process.
‘In other words, the House Democrats already spent 12 weeks undermining the institution of the presidency with an historically unfair and subjective impeachment… and now, for the sequel, they’ve come after the institution of the Senate as well. That’s where we are.
‘The dwindling number of our Senate Democrat colleagues who remain complicit in this must realize what they are doing. Should future House majorities feel empowered to waste our time with junior-varsity political hostage situations? Should future Speakers be permitted to conjure up this sword of Damocles at will and leave it hanging over the Senate unless we do what they say?
‘Of course not.
‘This week, a majority of the Senate stepped forward to make it perfectly clear that this conversation is over. A majority of this body has said definitively that we are not ceding our constitutional authority to the partisan designs of the Speaker. We will not let the House extend its precedent-breaking spree over here to our chamber.
‘There will be no unfair new rulebook written solely for President Trump. The basic organization of the first phase of this trial will track with phase one of the Clinton trial — which all 100 senators voted for in 1999. I’ve said for months that this is our preferred route.
‘By the way, that is exactly what the American people want. Seventy-seven percent told a Harvard/Harris survey that the basic outline of the Clinton trial — reserving the witnesses question until later in the proceedings — ought to be good enough for this president as well.
‘Fair is fair.
‘In the same survey, 58 percent of Americans said they want Speaker Pelosi to do her job and send the articles to the Senate rather than continue delaying.
‘And it makes sense that American families have lost patience with this act just like we senators have lost patience with it. Because this is not just some intramural tiff between the two houses in our bicameral legislature. This recklessness affects our entire country.
‘When you take a step back, what has really happened over the past three weeks?
‘When you step back from the political noise and the pundits discussing “leverage” that never existed, what have House Democrats actually done?
‘This is what they have done: They have initiated one of the most grave and most unsettling processes in our Constitution and then refused to allow a resolution.
‘The Speaker began something that she herself predicted would be “so divisive to the country”… and now she is unilaterally saying it cannot move forward towards a resolution.
‘It is bad enough that House Democrats gave in to the temptation of subjective impeachment that every previous House for 230 years had managed to resist. However unwise, that is their constitutional prerogative. They get to start this, if they choose.
‘But they do not get to declare that it can never be finished. They do not get to trap our entire country into an unending “Groundhog Day” of impeachment without resolution.
‘Alexander Hamilton specifically warned against a procrastinated resolution of impeachments.
‘In part that is because our duly-elected president deserves a verdict, just like every American who is accused by their government deserves a speedy trial.
‘But this goes deeper than fairness to one individual. This is about what is fair to the entire country.
‘There is a reason why the framers did not contemplate a permanently unsettled presidency. That is true under any circumstances — but consider especially the circumstances of recent days. Even as the Democrats have prolonged this game, we have seen Iran escalate tensions with our nation. We live in a dangerous world.
‘So, yes, a House majority can create this temporary cloud over a commander-in-chief if they so choose. But they do not get to keep that cloud in place forever.
‘So, look. There is real business for the American people that the United States Senate needs to complete.
‘If the Speaker continues to refuse to take her own accusations to trial, the Senate will move forward next week with the business of our people.
‘We will operate on the assumption that House Democrats are too embarrassed to ever move forward.
‘We will get back to the people’s business.
‘For example: The Senate continues to process President Trump’s landmark trade deal, the USMCA, through our committees of jurisdiction. It passed the Senate Finance Committee this week by a landslide vote of 25 to 3 — a major victory for the president and working families. Now our other committees will continue their own consideration.
‘And there is more. The epidemic of opioids, fentanyl, and other substance abuse continues to plague our nation. Some colleagues have signaled they may raise privileged resolutions on war powers.
‘The Senate has plenty of serious work to do for our country. So while the Speaker continues her irresponsible games, we will continue doing the people’s business.’