Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy’s rapid decision to launch an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden appears to have won over even the most reluctant GOP members, with some Republican lawmakers pushing for it to move quickly rather than drag through the 2024 election year.
McCarthy opened and then closed a private Wednesday meeting of House Republicans by justifying his reasons for the inquiry.
The White House mobilized to fight against Biden regarding his son Hunter Biden.
In a 14-paged memo sent to news media leaders, the White House urged them to report accurately on “the Republicans’ unprecedented, unfounded claims underlying an impeachment inquiry.”
The moment is politically pivotal for the embattled GOP speaker whose job has been targeted by some trying to oust him.
In the inquiry, House Republicans say they can link Biden to his son’s business dealings. This, while former President Trump is facing criminal charges in four separate indictments. So, in a rare occurrence, both leading candidates for the 2024 election are facing investigations and accusations.
“I hope we can get it through as quickly as possible,” said GOP Representative James Comer of Kentucky, chairman of the Oversight Committee leading the impeachment inquiry.
McCarthy’s decision to launch the impeachment inquiry appears to have done little to appease conservative lawmakers that he needed to win over for his most immediate task: Persuading the Republican majority to pass the federal spending bills needed to avoid a government shutdown in only two weeks.
Hard-right GOP members still want McCarthy to cut federal spending below the levels he and the president agreed to as part of a budget deal earlier in the year. The stand risks a federal shutdown if they don’t get the government funded by September 20 when the current money runs out.
Dems expected to oppose Republican efforts as well as impeachment
Democrats are expected to oppose the GOP efforts and fight Biden’s impeachment.
Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California who led the first impeachment of Trump, said Speaker McCarthy’s failure to bring the inquiry before the full House for a vote was “an acknowledgment that he lacks the support in his conference to move forward.”
“He is beholden to the more extreme elements,” said Schiff as lawmakers returned to Washington late Thursday. “It is yet another indication of the weakness in the speakership and the degree by which he is manipulated by Donald Trump.”
However, moderate Republicans representing districts won by Biden over Trump in 2020, who are most at risk in next year’s election, generally supported McCarthy’s decision to launch the impeachment probe.
“I would have voted for it,” said GOP Representative Mike Garcia of California about the impeachment probe. “There’s smoke there, so we have a requirement to go investigate that and see if there’s fire there.”
New York Representative Nick LaLota, another Republican from a district Biden won in 2022, said he isn’t worried about backlash back home. “I think my constituents deserve some answers.”
The freshman lawmaker and other possible holdouts like Colorado GOP Representative Ken Buck of Colorado were offered private briefings from leadership this week to assuage any concerns.
Oklahoma Republican Representative Tom Cole said McCarthy did not discuss a timeline for the impeachment inquiry.
“I don’t think there is a timeline because you don’t have a predetermined outcome,” said Cole. “You do it until you think you’ve got the truth, or you don’t and can’t go any further.”
On the issue of government funding, it’s “really the number one thing we have to get done by the end of the month,” said California Republican Representative Darrell Issa of California, when exiting Wednesday’s meeting.
Several lawmakers said McCarthy doesn’t appear to have a viable plan to keep the government open.
One plan Speaker McCarthy is floating for averting a shutdown is to ask the House to approve as many spending bills as possible at the lower levels the GOP desires and push them on to the Senate, which is run by Democrats, hoping to compromise.
However, a massive House Republican piece of legislation to fund the Defense Department and related military affairs is scheduled for a vote this week. Still, it remains to be seen if the House can pass it.
The GOP is trying to add amendments to the defense bill, including eliminating funding for the Pentagon’s diversity, equity, and inclusion offices and Ukraine. One amendment would reduce Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s salary to $1.
Democrats are expected to vote against those and impeachment if the inquiry moves forward.