The expectation on Capitol Hill is that the House will vote to send the articles of impeachment across the Capitol on Tuesday or Wednesday.
So, here’s what you need to know about what happens next if Nancy Pelosi actually sends the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate.
Tuesday is a pivotal day. The House Democratic Caucus huddles in the morning. It’s possible the Speaker could announce her plan immediately after the caucus meeting and the debate/vote could happen that same day. It’s also possible the House may not tangle with the measure until later in the week. But Tuesday is the earliest anything will now come to the floor.
Here’s what needs to happen mechanically – regardless of when Pelosi pulls the trigger.
The articles are usually tucked into cherry wood or cedar boxes and escorted across the Capitol with a procession led by House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving and Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger.
The House then has a short ten-minute debate on sending the impeachment measure plus the managers to the Senate. This will require a simple majority vote. Once the House approves that measure, the articles are ready to be walked across the Capitol to the Senate.
Even if the House approves the articles, it’s unclear when exactly the articles of impeachment are actually packed up and physically walked from the House side of the Capitol, through Statuary Hall, through the Capitol Rotunda, by the “mini-Rotunda,” paraded through the Ohio Clock Corridor and deposited in the Senate. The articles are usually tucked into cherry wood or cedar boxes and escorted across the Capitol with a procession led by House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving and Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger. This process could happen within an hour or two of the House voting to send the articles to the Senate – or, potentially days, later. The “when” is a big question here.
Then, it’s the Senate’s turn to wrestle with impeachment.
The Senate adopted a set of 26 rules in 1986 to handle impeachments.
Senate Impeachment Rule I states that once the House votes to appoint managers “The Secretary of the Senate shall immediately inform the House of Representatives that the Senate is ready to receive the managers for the purpose of exhibiting such articles of impeachment.”
This means that the Senate must approve a resolution, indicating it is prepared to receive the House’s articles. The Senate can’t get the articles until it acts. The House cannot send the articles across the Capitol until the Senate says it’s ready.
The Senate then usually sets a time/date to receive the articles in that resolution.
Senate Impeachment Rule II says “When the managers of an impeachment shall be introduced at the bar of the Senate and shall signify that they are ready to exhibit articles of impeachment against any person, the Presiding Officer of the Senate shall direct the Sergeant at Arms to make proclamation, who shall, after making proclamation, repeat the following words, viz: ‘All persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States articles of impeachment against_______ ______’; after which the articles shall be exhibited, and then the Presiding Officer of the Senate shall inform the managers that the Senate will take proper order on the subject of the impeachment, of which due notice shall be given to the House of Representatives.”
In other words, the Senate gets the articles. Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger announces the “exhibition of the articles.” The articles are read before the Senate and the impeachment managers are recognized.
At that point, the Senate trial is technically underway. This is the first step in the Senate trial.
Even at that stage, we may be at least a few days if not a week away from getting into the meat of the trial.