WASHINGTON—Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) introduced a resolution to the House of Representatives on Jan. 8 to censure the chamber’s top official, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for her delay in sending two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate.
“Speaker Pelosi’s decision to hold the articles of impeachment against President Trump in a pathetic and unconstitutional attempt to extract concessions from the Senate is an unprecedented abuse of power,” Byrne said in a statement announcing the resolution.
“House Democrats made the misguided decision to rush through the most legally unsound and factually unsupported articles of impeachment in the history of this country, and they can’t now insist that the Senate fix their shoddy, incomplete work.”
The two articles, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, were approved by House Democrats on Dec. 18, 2019, with allegations that Trump withheld U.S. military aid to Ukraine in return for officials there investigating former Vice President Joe Biden.
All House Republicans voted against both articles, as did two Democrats, while Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, voted present on both articles.
The Constitution gives the House of Representatives the authority to impeach a president for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” while the decision on whether to convict and remove an impeached official from office rests solely with the Senate.
In the two previous presidential impeachments by the House—of Democrat Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Democrat Bill Clinton in 1998—House officials quickly transmitted the impeachment articles to the Senate and appointed managers to present the impeachment case to the Senate trial.
Pelosi has yet to do so, citing concerns that the rules for the trial in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, won’t be “fair” if the upper chamber doesn’t allow testimony by witnesses who didn’t appear before the lower chamber.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has echoed Pelosi on the issue, but at least five Senate Democrats earlier this week publicly said Pelosi should end the delay and send the articles over.
“Pelosi, Schiff, and Nadler must do as our founders intended and present the lackluster case they assembled to the Senate and let the President finally exercise his right to defend himself. Until then, the leader of this attempt to throw out Constitutional norms to remove our president must be held accountable,” Byrne said in his statement.
The key section of Byrne’s resolution states:
“Whereas this attempt by Representative Nancy D’Alessandro Pelosi to establish a quid pro quo where the House performs a necessary function in the impeachment process in exchange for the Senate agreeing to demands with respect to the impeachment trial is an impermissible attempt to invade the constitutionally delegated authority of the Senate;
“Whereas leveraging the powers of the House in this matter by indefinitely preventing the trial of Donald John Trump or by attempting to slant the trial in a manner favorable to the proponents of impeachment and removal threatens to deny Donald John Trump his constitutionally protected right of due process and the opportunity to defend himself;
“And Whereas the actions of Representative Nancy D’Alessandro Pelosi represent an abuse of power and bring dishonor and discredit to the House of Representatives …”
Censure is the most serious punishment the House can impose on a member, short of refusing to seat the individual. Once a censure motion is adopted by a simple majority of the House, the censured member is required to stand before the assembly as the censure resolution is read aloud.
The last such resolution adopted by the House occurred in 2010 when Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) was censured for improper soliciting of funds, inaccurate financial disclosures, and failure to pay federal taxes.
Only four other representatives have been censured since 1787.
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc