A Utah state lawmaker introduced a bill that would allow voters to recall a sitting U.S. senator before his or her six-year term ends.
Republican Rep. Tim Quinn, 56, claimed that the bill had nothing to do with either of the state’s current senators, Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, but that he believed the policy was important given the length of a senator’s term. Others questioned if Quinn’s timing of the bill, which was introduced on Wednesday, was triggered by Romney’s wavering support of President Trump throughout the impeachment process.
“I know that’s what’s going to be the narrative,” Quinn told Deseret News when asked if his legislation was targeted at Romney. “If it were, then it might make sense to have a sunset on it. That would not be the case.”
He added: “Obviously, I didn’t open this bill file after he made some of that news with impeachment, it would have never been drafted this quickly. So I can understand why people might think that, but if they understood the legislative process, this was well before that.”
Quinn said he started working on the bill “weeks and weeks ago” and felt it was a “good mechanism in place to make any senator, current or future, a little more accountable to those who elected him or her.”
He added, “Six years is a long time.”
If the legislation became law, voters could petition to have a recall election of a sitting U.S. senator. Those looking to oust a senator would have to collect petitions from 25% of the state’s voting population to trigger the recall vote during the next election.
“I think it’s a fairly large hurdle,” Quinn said of the petition process. “That’s a lot of signature gathering. So it’s not something that people would take lightly if someone ever did want to recall a sitting senator.”
Quinn’s bill would likely face a battle in the courts if it became law. The 17th Amendment changed Senate seats from being appointments to elected offices, but there is not currently a process showing a constitutional way to recall federally elected officials.
Romney, 72, has faced scrutiny from within his party for breaking with Trump on issues such as impeachment. Newly appointed Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler ripped Romney for leaving the door open on additional witness testimony, tweeting: “After 2 weeks, it’s clear that Democrats have no case for impeachment. Sadly, my colleague [Romney] wants to appease the left by calling witnesses who will slander the [president] during their 15 minutes of fame. The circus is over. It’s time to move on!”
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