Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has suggested that she might delay delivering the articles of impeachment to the Senate. That could lead to the following scenario:

  1. The articles of impeachment are delayed for a significant amount of time.
  2. Trump wins a second term in November, 2020 and gets inaugurated in January, 2021.
  3. The Senate gets delivered the articles of impeachment, votes on them, and decides to remove Trump from office.

Is this possible, or would the decision be void, since the original impeachment was decided on his first presidential term, and the clock was somehow "reset" when he was re-elected?

This question is relevant as I'm curious if there is some sort of effective time limit on how long Nancy Pelosi could delay delivering the articles of impeachment before they become "useless".

  • The delay in sending causes major problems politics.stackexchange.com/questions/48885/…
    – user9790
    Dec 20, 2019 at 3:37
  • 6
    Hm, so a more generic form of this question would be "When, if ever, do Articles of Impeachment expire?"
    – divibisan
    Dec 20, 2019 at 3:47
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    @divibisan Hmmm, yes. I suppose so. Though, I would say "When, if ever, do Articles of Impeachment PRACTICALLY expire", as I don't believe they would ever constitutionally expire, and my understanding is that if the Senate were delivered them, they would be obligated to consider them regardless of when they were delivered. But please correct me if I'm wrong on any of that. Dec 20, 2019 at 3:52
  • Related: "Can a bill that has passed the US Senate or House expire?" politics.stackexchange.com/q/12219/8912
    – Sjoerd
    Dec 20, 2019 at 8:36
  • @sjoerd articles of impeachment are not the same as bills, and they do not expire as do bills. See the comments on Ryathal's answer.
    – phoog
    Dec 20, 2019 at 14:27

1 Answer 1


There are a few factors related to this. First, congressional terms end on January 3rd following the election, at this time all unfinished business is effectively deleted. This means if the senate doesn't vote on removal by then the impeachment is void and the new congress would have to redraft and vote on new articles. To answer the scenario in your question, no its not possible, because the articles will have expired before Trump would be re-inaugurated.

The Senate vote is actually two votes, one to remove from office, and one to bar from holding any office in government. In a scenario where Trump wins reelection and is then removed from office before January 3rd, he would become president again on the 21st of January. If the Senate also voted to bar Trump from holding office, then the elected Vice President would be sworn in as Vice President as normal and then immediately sworn in as President. The elected Vice President is always sworn in before the elected President, this does mean that if the Elected Vice President was the same person as the current President that technically they are both positions until the oath is completed.

  • 6
    You would think that the impeachment would be void if the Congress ends, but it's not the case. It's provably not the case. Chuck Schumer voted against Bill Clinton's impeachment as a Congressman. And then, because he was just elected, he voted against it as a Senator in the Senate trial (during the new Senate session). Bill Clinton was impeach on December 19th, 1998 and the trial was on February 12, 1999.
    – grovkin
    Dec 20, 2019 at 13:36
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    "[at the end of the term,] all unfinished business is effectively deleted": there is precedent slowing that this is incorrect. In the Louderback and Hastings impeachments, the senate trial began in one session of congress and continued into the next.
    – phoog
    Dec 20, 2019 at 14:25
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    It sounds like, then, the question is whether or not the Articles of Impeachment themselves are a bill. The bill in the House would expire as unfinished business, but the Articles of Impeachment are a bit more hazy? Dec 20, 2019 at 14:55

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