Senate Trial: It May Be Now or Never for Censure

  • Share
  • Read Later
WASHINGTON: Early reports from the Senate's private session depict a parade of members lumbering up to the chamber microphone and voting along party lines (although a few Republicans have apparently bolted on the perjury article). The current pace should leave time on Friday for what many senators have been thinking about since December: a bipartisan censure to quiet the echoes of acquittal. With a President's Day recess looming next week, censure's opponents are hoping that the clock runs out. "If censure doesn't get done on Friday," says TIME congressional correspondent Jay Carney, "it's unlikely they'd pick it back up after their week off for President's Day."

Special Report In fact, as the final votes on the articles approach, the mostly Republican opponents will settle for even the likelihood of censure's clock running out. Pessimism about a bipartisan happy ending could help keep some of those moderates at home in the conviction camp. "There's a sense that if censure were known to be doomed, the GOP might hang on to its majority on the articles," says Carney. "As in the House, censure gives the wavering moderates a place to go. Some of them would then vote to acquit." Why not give everybody a place to go? Carney says censure's No. 1 enemy, Texan Phil Gramm, truly thinks that it's an inelegant and unconstitutional way to end an impeachment trial. It sure doesn't hurt that 40 Democrats want it badly -- but not badly enough to forfeit any of their speech time to give it a better chance.

Click to share your opinions on the impeachment trial>>