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Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) speaks with reporters as he leaves the Capitol. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Senate is on track to swiftly acquit President Trump after Sen. Lamar Alexander announced Thursday night that he will vote against calling for additional witnesses.

Why it matters: Alexander's vote is crucial to whether the impeachment trial extends beyond this weekend, and his decision to stick with his party all but guarantees that Friday's witness vote will fail.

Background: Alexander has been a true wildcard during the Senate trial. He's a Tennessee Republican who has gone against Trump in the past, and is retiring at the end of his term, freeing him to make this decision without worrying about the political ramifications of such a vote.

  • However, he's extremely close with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been working diligently behind the scenes to persuade his caucus to sink the witness vote.
  • Alexander also has his legacy to worry about, which will now be shaped in part by this decision.

What he's saying:

"I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the U.S. Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense."

The big picture: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced Thursday night that she will vote in favor of witnesses in the impeachment trial, making her the first GOP senator to definitively say that she will do so.

  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski remains undecided: “I am going to go reflect on what I have heard, re-read my notes and decide whether I need to hear more,” she told reporters.
  • Sen. Mitt Romney is expected to vote to call witnesses.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

House passes $768 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans’ secret lobbying

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.

CBC members nix border visit

A Haitian migrant carries a toddler on his shoulders today as he crosses the Rio Grande River. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus weighed visiting the U.S.-Mexico border this week to investigate the conditions faced by Haitian migrants and protest allegations of inhumane treatment by U.S. agents.

Why it matters: It's a thorny proposition both in terms of timing and messaging. Going assures a new wave of negative headlines for President Biden amid sinking popularity. And with congressional deadlines in the coming days over infrastructure, a possible government shutdown and debt-limit crisis, Democrats can't afford to lose any votes in the House.