The House voted to formalize the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden Wednesday, taking a crucial step that Republican leaders have argued is required to force the White House into complying with their investigation.
The measure passed 221 to 212, with every member of the GOP voting in favor of it and all Democrats present voting against it. Light cheering could be heard on the Republican side of the chamber after the measure passed, with silence on the Democrat side.
“We are now at a pivotal moment in our investigation. We will soon depose and interview several members of the Biden family and their associates about these influence-peddling schemes. But we are facing obstruction from the White House,” said Republican House Oversight Chairman James Comer of Kentucky on the floor of the House before the vote.
“The White House is seeking to block key testimony from current and former White House staff. It also withholds thousands of records from Joe Biden’s time as Vice President. President Biden must be held accountable for his lies, corruption, and obstruction. We must provide the accountability and transparency that Americans demand and deserve,” Comer emphasized.
The Republican-led Judiciary and the Oversight, Ways & Means committees have been investigating the president over accusations he leveraged his office of vice president during the Obama administration to enrich his family through foreign business deals.
It has heavily centered on his son Hunter Biden — who is under federal investigation for firearm and tax-related charges, and James Biden, one of President Biden’s brothers.
Former House Speaker McCarthy directed the House to open an impeachment probe into the president
GOP former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy of California directed the House to open an impeachment into the president in September. However, the White House has said the probe is illegitimate without a formal vote on the issue.
Republican Tom Emmer, House Majority Whip from Minnesota, said the White House “requested” the House vote itself.
“The White House sent a letter…saying that the subpoenas [Republicans] had served will not be honored and won’t even be recognized without a full vote of the House. So, our speaker has done exactly what I would expect he would do as a lawyer. We’re going to honor that. We’re going to go ahead and do a full floor vote,” said Emmer. “He knows we’re probably going to have to go to court to enforce these anyway, so might as well eliminate any of the objections that they have.”
Iowa GOP Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks said Republicans were undertaking their vote because they realize the gravity of impeachment proceedings.
“We don’t want to minimize what it means to have an impeachment, which I think is what the Democrats did. We want to be able to have that tool to be a significant tool to hold presidents accountable,” said Miller-Meeks. “We don’t want it just to be a knee-jerk reaction.”
Judiciary Committee member and Republican Ben Cline of Virginia said, “I think the House Republicans will follow the facts where they lead…will make sure that we have the facts and that we present the facts to the American people.”
In a statement after the vote, President Biden accused Republican House members of wasting time by avoiding critical issues facing the nation and with political attacks.
“We have to address the situation at our southern border, and I am determined to try to fix the problem. We need funding to strengthen border security, but Republicans in Congress won’t act to help,” said Biden.
The president said he is also working to “make sure inflation keeps going down and job growth keeps going up” — however, he accused Congress of refusing to help him.
“Instead of doing anything to help make Americans’ lives better, they are focused on attacking me with lies. Instead of doing their job on the urgent work that needs to be done, they are choosing to waste time on this baseless political stunt that even Republicans in Congress admit is not supported by facts,” Biden said.
The vote follows hours after Hunter Biden made a surprise statement outside the U.S. Capitol Wednesday morning.
The president’s son had been scheduled to appear for a closed-door deposition with the Oversight Committee; instead, he delivered a short statement to reporters on his father’s innocence before leaving Capitol Hill altogether, not sitting for his deposition.