U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday evening said he hoped the Senate would find a way to balance its “constitutional responsibilities on impeachment” with ‘other urgent business’ of state.
Biden’s remarks came in a statement shortly after the House of Representatives led by Nancy Pelosi impeached outgoing President Donald Trump for allegedly inciting the Jan. 6 breach of Congress by his supporters.
Trump denies the allegation, and in a video message on Wednesday, “unequivocally condemned” the incident, saying no true supporter of his would engage in such acts of violence.
Biden said: “Today, the members of the House of Representatives exercised the power granted to them under our Constitution and voted to impeach and hold the president accountable.
“It was a bipartisan vote cast by members who followed the constitution and their conscience.
“The process continues to the Senate. This nation also remains in the grip of a deadly virus and a reeling economy.
“I hope that the 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.”
He emphasised that there was too much “urgent work,” to be done, including confirmation of his appointees and revival of the struggling economy.
The next step is for the House to send the article of impeachment to the Senate, which is currently on break until Jan. 19, a day before Biden’s inauguration.
Two-thirds majority votes are needed for the Senate to convict Trump, but Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said that was unlikely before he leaves office.
In a statement on Wednesday evening, McConnell pointed out that even if the Senate reconvened on the matter this week, it would not be able to reach a final decision before Jan. 20
He said: “Remember, Inauguration Day is 20 January. The Senate can still convict Trump after his departure, though.
“In light of this reality, I believe it will best serve our nation if Congress and the executive branch spend the next seven days completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration and an orderly transfer of power to the incoming Biden administration.”