Alabama’s Senators Vote to Block Impeachment, Reject Biden Nominees

WASHINGTON – Alabama’s two Republican state senators showed a united front last week while siding with a move to challenge the constitutionality of a Trump impeachment trial and voting against President Biden’s nominees to key positions. Here are votes on major issues in the Senate during the week ending Jan. 29. The House was in recess.

Allowing Trump Impeachment Trial

Voting 55 for and 45 against, the Senate on Jan. 26 set aside an objection by Rand Paul, R-Ky., to the constitutionality of the upcoming impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Paul said the Constitution provides for impeachment of sitting officials, but not former officeholders.

Democrats pointed to the precedent of Secretary of War William Belknap’s impeachment and conviction in 1876 despite his last-minute resignation in an effort to avoid those penalties. They also noted constitutional language allowing impeached and convicted officials to be disqualified from holding future office. Five Republicans joined all Democrats and independents in voting to table Paul’s point of order. The Republicans were Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said: “The theory that the impeachment of a former official is unconstitutional is flat-out wrong by every frame of analysis: constitutional text, historical practice, precedent and basic common sense. It has been completely debunked by constitutional scholars from all across the political spectrum.”

Paul said: “As of noon last Wednesday, Donald Trump holds none of the positions listed in the Constitution. He is a private citizen. … Therefore, I make a point of order that this proceeding, which would try a private citizen and not a president, a vice president, or civil officer, violates the Constitution and is not in order.”

A yes vote was to table a point of order so that the impeachment trial can begin.


Voting yes: None

Voting no: Richard Shelby, R, Tommy Tuberville, R

Confirming Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury

Voting 84 for and 15 against, the Senate on Jan. 25 confirmed Janet L. Yellen, 74, as the 78th secretary of the Treasury and first woman to lead the department in its 232-year history. She served on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in 1994-1997 and 2010-2018, and from 2014 to 2018 she was the first woman to chair the Fed. During her confirmation hearing, Yellen expressed support for expanded economic stimulus as a response to COVID-19 as well as a $15-per-hour minimum wage, environmental regulation and raising taxes on those making more than $400,000 per year.

Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said: “As the Federal Reserve chair, Yellen changed decades of conventional economic wisdom that put too much focus on inflation and deficits. She was correct that policy makers should focus more on wages, employment and inequality and that the economy safely could run a little hotter.”

Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said: “I certainly intended to vote for Secretary Yellen, but I was a no vote … . Despite a long robust discussion, it was very difficult to get her to commit to being a strong advocate for a robust all-of-the-above energy sector for the U.S. economy.”

A yes vote was to confirm Yellen.


Voting yes: None

Voting no: Shelby, Tuberville 

Confirming Antony Blinken, Secretary of State

Voting 78 for and 22 against, the Senate on Jan. 26, confirmed Antony J. Blinken, 58, as the nation’s 71st secretary of state. Blinken has served in senior foreign policy positions for 27 years, including as national security adviser to then-Vice President Joe Biden and deputy secretary of state under former President Barack Obama.

Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said Blinken is “the right person to repair and restore our alliances, to reinvigorate the relationship between the State Department and Congress.”

Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Blinken has a record of playing down Congress’ sole authority to declare war. “I will vote against (him) because I am against war. I am against war that is not declared by Congress. I am against war that is executed primarily by the president. I am against them doing it without the permission of the people,” he said.

A yes vote was to confirm Blinken.


Voting yes: None

Voting no: Shelby, Tuberville 

Ending Filibuster Against Mayorkas

Voting 55 for and 42 against, the Senate on Jan. 28 defeated a Republican filibuster against the nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of homeland security, clearing the way for a Feb. 1 confirmation vote. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., had blocked the nomination for eight days with arguments that Mayorkas is soft on securing the southern border.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said: “Our government recently suffered an unprecedented cyberattack. In the wake of January 6, the threat of violence and domestic terrorism remains of great concern. But because of the tactics of some Republican members … . (the) nomination is being needlessly stalled.”

Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Mayorkas politicized the EB-5 Investment Visa Program while heading U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services between 2009-2013. Under that program, qualified foreign investors can obtain permanent U.S. residence by investing at least $900,000 in enterprises that create a specified number of new jobs.

A yes vote was to advance the nomination.


Voting yes: None

Voting no: Shelby, Tuberville 


The Senate will debate President Biden’s nominees and a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package in the week of Feb. 1, while the House schedule was to be announced.