Senators will be sworn in as jurors for the Mayorkas impeachment trial The Senate is still negotiating what the scope of the homeland security secretary's trial will be and whether to allow debate in the Democratic-controlled chamber.

Senators to be sworn in as jurors in Mayorkas impeachment trial

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green, R-Tenn., Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and their fellow Republican impeachment managers walk back through the U.S. Capitol Rotunda after transmitting articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate on Tuesday. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green, R-Tenn., Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and their fellow Republican impeachment managers walk back through the U.S. Capitol Rotunda after transmitting articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate on Tuesday.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

To debate or not debate?

That's the question facing the upper chamber Wednesday ahead of afternoon plans to swear in all 100 senators as jurors in the impeachment trial against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was expected to dispose of the charges, with either a motion to dismiss or by tabling them, but discussions continued late Tuesday for a potential bipartisan deal for debate. A deal had yet to be reached by early Wednesday.

"We want to address this issue as expeditiously as possible," Schumer said Tuesday. "Impeachment should never be used to settle a policy disagreement. Talk about awful precedents."

The trial comes roughly two months after House Republicans voted to impeach Mayorkas by one vote, the tightest of margins. The House impeachment managers delivered the articles to the Senate on Tuesday, triggering the next steps in a trial.

"Alejandro N. Mayorkas thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States," the lead House impeachment manager, House Homeland Security Committee Chair Mark Green, R-Tenn., read from the resolution to the Senate chamber.

The Democratic-led Senate is not expected to convict or remove Mayorkas.

What the charges are

The House impeachment resolution includes two charges — willfully ignoring the law and breaching the public's trust.

At the center of the procedural fight is the U.S.-Mexico border and the people who have crossed it in record numbers. Republicans accuse Mayorkas of refusing to enforce immigration laws, Democrats and the Biden administration say Republicans have a policy disagreement with the White House and impeachment isn't the way to address it.

Republicans in both chambers are eager to put the issue of border security front and center during this election year. President Biden's handling of the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border remains a weak spot politically for him, according to recent public opinion polls.

Republicans demand debate

No other legislative business can be taken up during the trial, unless all 100 senators agree otherwise. That's a concern for Democrats, with Congress facing a Friday deadline to renew legislation to extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, which remains quite controversial. Congress is also debating additional aid for Israel, following the attack from Iran over the weekend.

However, a conservative wing of Senate Republicans has joined their House counterparts in calling for debate on the charges facing Mayorkas. On Tuesday, Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, a moderate, joined the calls.

"I far prefer having a debate and discussion of some kind or a trial or a committee discussion," Romney told NPR. "I think a motion to table sets a very unfortunate constitutional precedent."

Democrats are watching moderate Republicans like Romney very closely in the narrowly controlled chamber because he is a key swing vote who could help wrap the effort up as quickly as possible.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday on the floor that "history and precedent dictate" that the Senate hold a trial.

"It would be beneath the Senate's dignity to shrug off our clear responsibility and fail to give the charges we'll hear today the thorough consideration they deserve," he said.

House Speaker Mike Johnson had earlier urged Schumer in a written statement to hold a public trial.

"The catastrophe at the southern border is the number one issue for the American people. We must hold those who engineered this crisis to full account," he said.