U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin says it’s crucial for the Senate to work on President Biden’s cabinet confirmations before proceeding to former President Trump’s impeachment trial.

“We need a functioning federal government to respond to the multiple crises we face as a nation,” the Madison Democrat told the statewide “UpFront” program, produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Late Friday, Senate leadership announced Trump’s trial would start the week of Feb. 8.

Host Adrienne Pedersen asked Baldwin to respond to comments from U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, that the impeachment trial of a former president is unconstitutional.

“It is not unconstitutional,” she said, noting the 14th Amendment has a clause that could bar Trump from running or holding federal office again in the future if he is convicted.

Pedersen also asked Baldwin if it’s a given that she will vote to convict.

“I will see the trial through,” Baldwin said. “That will always be the case. But I am very familiar with the article of impeachment that’s been passed by the House of Representatives and what it contains.”

Baldwin said some of her Republican colleagues have expressed “grave concerns about what we all went through on January 6th” and have an openness to hearing the case.

“Many of my colleagues narrowly missed direct confrontation with insurrectionists who clearly intended to do harm to members of Congress in order to overturn the election and the will of the people,” she said.

Baldwin also said the fight against COVID-19 will get better with Biden in the White House.

“I think that we will see a lot more assistance provided to the local levels to get this done, and I think we’ll see dramatic changes because of that,” she said.

Baldwin said Trump had an “utter failure to really stand up and use the tools available to protect the people of the United States.”

She also said she was hopeful that Democrats and Republicans would work together on another COVID relief package.

“Every member of the U.S. Senate has constituents who are struggling, who are suffering, who are falling ill, and who face issues like eviction or mortgage foreclosure. It’s important that we work together to relieve those crises in each of our states,” she said.

“If not, we know that method that can be used, can be budget reconciliation, as a last resort,” Baldwin said.

In another segment, a state health official said the key to accelerating the pace of vaccinations in Wisconsin is the approval of additional COVID-19 vaccines.

“We know that Johnson & Johnson is in clinical trials and we hear may be close to applying for emergency use authorization,” said Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the Department of Health Services.

“Similarly, the AstraZeneca vaccine in the next month or so. So if we get the addition of another couple of vaccines that will dramatically increase supply and help us get there sooner,” she said.

Willems Van Dijk said the state continues to receive about 70,000 doses of vaccine a week. People aged 65 and up will be eligible for vaccination starting today. But with a population of 700,000 residents in that age group, she said it will take about 10 weeks to get them all vaccinated if the number of doses received doesn’t increase.

She said the timeline for vaccination of the general public remains late spring or early summer.

“We’ve done an incredible job over the last year of using other tools in our toolbox for how to prevent the spread of the disease,” she said. “I know people are sick of staying home. I know they’re sick of social distancing. I know they’re sick of masks. But these are the things that people need to do, as we await further vaccine supply, to protect themselves,” Willems Van Dijk said.

She also said DHS is working on a statewide registry that would allow people to go to a web site, find out where vaccination clinics are, and register for those clinics when enough vaccine is available.

See more from the program: http://www.wisn.com/upfront

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