The house will attempt to impeach President Donald Trump on Wednesday, but despite the months of buildup, not many Americans know what the details of what impeachment will actually look like.
Fox News Reporter Chad Pergram broke down that process on Twitter. Here’s a rundown of what’s happening today.
The House first meets at 9 a.m. and for 20 to 40 minutes will go about housekeeping matters. That’s fairly standard and there’s nothing really out of the ordinary there. The first step of the actual impeachment begins when the house brings the “rule,” prepared by the House Rules Committee, to the floor for a debate and a vote around 9:30 a.m.
This vote isn’t for the impeachment itself. Instead the “rule” being referenced is a proposal to bring the articles of impeachment to the floor—it’s a sort of green light. It also provides parameters and structure for the debate on the articles later in the day. If the House votes and decides in favor of the rule, the process continues and the impeachment articles will then be brought before the House. This probably will happen around 10:40 or 11:00 a.m.
The actual debate on the articles of impeachment will begin sometime at 11:30. Fox has been told to expect something along the lines of four hours of debate.
Despite there being two charges of impeachment against Trump, reports say the House is likely to deal with the two issues in conjunction. They will probably both be discussed, in an unspecified order, but there will only be one proceeding.
“We expect a singular debate on both articles. Not one debate on abuse of power and not another debate on obstruction of Congress,” Pergram said.
Even with the condensing of the two issues into one, there’s really no way of saying how long the debate will last. To make the most of the hearing, some members of the House will only get about a minute to comment on their perspective on the articles. But it’s still going to take a while. According to Pergram, if the impeachment debate begins at 11:30 a.m. it is not likely to end until 4:30 or 5:00 at the earliest and will most likely continue going past that time.
A vote on the two articles will then occur.
If the Senate votes in favor of the articles, Trump will, at this point, be considered impeached. This, however, does not mean he is removed from office. The power to pass judgement and remove a sitting president is granted solely to the Senate.
Only if, after a Senate trial, a two-thirds majority finds in favor of the articles presented to them by the House, will the president then be removed from office. This was what happened with Andrew Johnson, the 17th president of the United States, who faced 11 articles of impeachment, was impeached, and ultimately remained in office and completed his term from 1856 to 1869.
When the debate comes to a close and a final decision is made on the articles of impeachment, the House is procedurally supposed to approve a final resolution to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate and announce the impeachment managers. (Impeachment managers are house representatives who are designated to argue the case for impeachment in the Senate’s hearing.) Here, however, the House has a choice.
The House could choose to have the debate, approve the articles, but then not pass the resolution to the senate. Pergram believes this could serve as a way for Democrats to stall and see what McConnell would agree to with a Senate trial. But what course of action House Democrats decide to take remains to be seen and will only become clearer as the day’s events continue.