Senate leaders failed, at least for now, to reach a deal Tuesday night to speed up votes on amendments to the impeachment trial rules.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) floated the idea of stacking the rest of the votes on amendments proposed to a rules package on impeachment from Democrats.
This would have set them up for back-to-back votes, negating the need for the House managers and Trump’s defense team to debate each one before each vote.
McConnell, noting that “there’s a certain similarity to all these amendments,” asked in a floor speech whether Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) “might be willing to enter into a consent agreement to stack these votes.”
Schumer did not agree, though he did signal a willingness to delay some of the votes until Wednesday.
“As has been clear to every senator and the country, we believe witnesses and documents are extremely important, and a compelling case has been made for them. We will have votes on all of these. The leader, without consulting us, made changes, a number of significant changes that significantly deviated from the 1999 Clinton resolution. We want to change those,” Schumer said from the Senate floor, responding to McConnell.
He added that “there will be a good number of votes” but said Democrats were willing to hold some of them on Wednesday.
But agreeing to kick the fight over the impeachment rules into Wednesday would go against McConnell’s pledge, made earlier Tuesday, that the Senate would stay in session until they passed the rules resolution.
Democrats have already forced votes on four amendments: three requests for documents related to the delayed Ukraine aid and an effort to subpoena acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. The impeachment trial started at 1 p.m., and without a deal to speed up the process, the Senate will stay in session until the early hours of Wednesday.
McConnell noted that “all of these amendments under the resolution could be dealt with at the appropriate time.” He then effectively paused the Senate trial so that staff and senators could try to see if there was a deal.
McConnell was spotted chatting with a cadre of Republican senators during the break, including Sens. John Thune (S.D.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), John Kennedy (La.) and Pat Roberts (Kansas).
Schumer, meanwhile, was spotted floating among members of the Democratic caucus, including Sens. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.).
But once the Senate came back, there was no announcement of a deal.
Instead, Schumer offered the fifth Democratic amendment — one that tries to compel the Defense Department to hand over Ukraine-related documents.
Asked if that meant they had failed to get a deal, a spokesman for the Democratic leader told The Hill that was “correct, for now.”
“For the time being, arguments and votes on Sen. Schumer’s amendments will continue,” the spokesman added in an email to reporters.