The revelation that President Donald Trump repeatedly demanded Ukraine officials work with his personal lawyer to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden has led to a fresh wave of calls for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to support an expedited impeachment effort — something that she is still resistant to doing.
But as Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty noted in a new op-ed, there is another method Democrats can use to punish Trump on the House floor — and unlike impeachment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would have no say over it whatsoever: a formal censure.
Tumulty noted that the procedure is well laid out by the Congressional Research Service: “Should a House committee report a non-Member censure resolution, the full House may consider it by unanimous consent, under the Suspension of the Rules procedure, or under the terms of a special rule reported by the Committee on Rules and adopted by the House. 17 If widespread support exists for the censure resolution, unanimous consent or the Suspension of the Rules procedure may be used. Otherwise, the resolution could be brought to the floor under a special rule reported by the Committee on Rules. All three of these parliamentary mechanisms require, at a minimum, the support of the majority party leadership in order to be entertained.”
“This would not sate the appetite of the pro-impeachment forces, or end the debate over whether that step is warranted,” wrote Tumulty. “But it could be done quickly, with the evidence at hand, and would have the benefit of forcing Republican members to go on record stating whether they do or do not find this behavior on the part of the president acceptable.”
“While many would argue that censure is a symbolic gesture, it is a disgrace that Trump would share with only one other president in American history — his purported idol, Andrew Jackson,” continued Tumulty. “Jackson was censured by the Senate in 1834 as the result of a little-remembered dispute over the Second Bank of the United States; it was expunged a few years later when his pro-Jackson Democrats gained a majority in the chamber, which showed that they regarded a censure as more than a slap on the wrist.”
“None of this would end the argument over impeachment, but it would prove to the American people that at least part of their government sets a higher standard of behavior than our current president does,” concluded Tumulty. “It also, finally, would force Republicans to answer a question that they have been dodging: Is there anything this president does that you will not tolerate?”