With the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump under way in the nation's capital, state lawmakers in Little Rock resolved to send the U.S. Senate a message: Act quickly.
A resolution condemning the U.S. House's two articles of impeachment was passed by a voice vote of the Arkansas Legislative Council on Friday. Several Democratic legislators dissented.
The resolution will be transmitted to the White House and both chambers of Congress, but carries no legal weight.
The four members of Arkansas' U.S. House delegation -- all Republicans -- last month voted against the articles, which allege abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The state resolution will be sent to their offices, as well as to Arkansas' two Republican U.S. senators.
Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, unveiled her resolution last week. She included language painting the two articles passed by the Democratic-majority U.S. House of Representatives as overly partisan and containing "no alleged violation of U.S. law."
The resolution also had called on the House to end its delay of transmitting both articles to the U.S. Senate. That delay ended Wednesday -- before Friday's vote -- when the U.S. House delivered both articles to the U.S. Senate.
On Thursday, also before the vote in Little Rock, the independent watchdog Government Accountability Office released a report finding that the White House broke the law when it temporarily withheld congressionally approved aid to Ukraine, an action at the center of the impeachment scandal.
Irvin said Arkansans remained resolute in their opposition to impeachment. She said the message needed to be sent to Congress to move on to other work.
"Whenever [Congress is] working well, we work well," Irvin said. "Whenever they're not working well, it becomes more difficult for us."
State Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock, said Irvin's concerns about delays had been made moot by the start of the Senate trial.
"It was marched over [Wednesday], you've got a hearing starting Tuesday, why do we still need this? I guess I don't get it," Chesterfield said. "I would resent federals telling me what to do."
Still, Republicans, who control the Legislative Council, expressed frustration at the time spent in Washington on impeachment instead of on legislation. All 26 Republicans in the Arkansas Senate had signed on as co-sponsors of the resolution by Friday.
"We don't really care if Congress resents us, do we?" said state Sen. Alan Clarke, R-Lonsdale.
Legislative Council members spent about 15 minutes considering the resolution Friday before a motion was made to cut the debate short and call a vote.
The vote and time spent considering the resolution also drew critical words from state Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, a member of the Legislative Council who is also running for Congress against Republican U.S. Rep French Hill of Little Rock. Elliott said she supports impeachment.
"It's a political stunt that will perhaps get you on national TV," Elliott said. "I think we could have used that time more wisely."
Irvin defended the time that the Legislative Council spent considering her nonbinding resolution, saying, "I think the time we spent on this paled way in comparison" to how much time has been spent on the matter in Congress.
Asked about her political future -- including rumors of a planned run for lieutenant governor in 2022 -- Irvin declined to answer.
"At this point I'm not making any decisions about any race," Irvin said.
Metro on 01/18/2020
Print Headline: Vote criticizes impeachment trial