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Senate to begin its trial following the House vote to impeach Alejandro Mayorkas

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Today, the Democratic-led Senate will kick off the impeachment trial of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. But don't blink because you just might miss it.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It is just the second in history of a sitting cabinet secretary. And it is rooted in the long, ongoing debate over immigration policy and politics. Democrats want to quash the effort quickly, while Republicans are calling for a full trial.

FADEL: NPR's congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales is here to talk about all this. Hi, Claudia.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Hey, Leila.

FADEL: So which side will get what it wants here?

GRISALES: Well, whoever controls the Senate - and that's Democrats - and many have said they want to see an outright motion to dismiss the trial because they say this is a dispute over border policy, and it does not rise to the level of an impeachment process. But now we are hearing senators could potentially reach an agreement to allow debate rather than just disposing of this very quickly.

FADEL: Why the possible shift in plans?

GRISALES: Well, Republicans have ramped up pressure on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democrats to spend more time on this. I talked to Utah Senator Mitt Romney, a moderate Republican who wants to see more of this debate happen. Here's what he said walking through the halls of the Capitol yesterday.

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MITT ROMNEY: I prefer having a debate, a discussion of some kind - or a trial or a committee discussion. I think a motion to table sets a very unfortunate constitutional precedent.

GRISALES: And Democrats are watching moderate Republicans like Romney very closely in this narrowly controlled chamber because he's one of their swing votes to try to wrap this up as quick as possible.

FADEL: And why this sense of urgency from the Democrats?

GRISALES: A few reasons. We covered their political objections, but the Senate is facing a potentially jam-packed week ahead of another recess for Congress next week. Friday marks the deadline to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, which remains quite controversial. And we saw the House struggle to pass this and send it to the Senate. There's also the potential the House could take up foreign aid for Israel, Ukraine and others and send it to the Senate. And there's new pressure after the Iran strikes against Israel this past weekend.

FADEL: Right. We talked about this yesterday. The House might finally be ready to vote on the aid package after months of Republican division. Is there any more clarity this morning about whether that legislation may pass?

GRISALES: No. That's the million-dollar question right now as House Speaker Mike Johnson is facing the growing threat of ouster for attempting to bring this aid to the floor this week, specifically for Ukraine. For his part, Johnson is moving full steam ahead, and he told reporters he's not focusing on the potential for this so-called motion to vacate.

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MIKE JOHNSON: I am not resigning. And it is, in my view, an absurd notion that someone would bring a vacate motion when we are simply here trying to do our jobs.

GRISALES: Johnson says it is not helpful to the cause or the country, and it does not help House Republicans advance their agenda.

FADEL: How many Republicans are pushing for a new speaker right now?

GRISALES: Well, we're at two right now, but that's a big deal and a very tight margin for Republicans in the House chamber. Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, who's opposed to this Ukraine aid, is leading the call. And yesterday, Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie said he asked Johnson to resign and that he was joining forces with Greene. But this is another wild card. She has not pushed for a vote yet, but it's one of many wild cards facing Capitol Hill right now.

FADEL: NPR's congressional correspondent Claudio Grisales. Thank you, Claudia.

GRISALES: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.
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