The House is back in session, and Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s first order of business was to announce that he will direct a House committee to open “a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.” Notably, the decision allows McCarthy and Republicans to skirt a full vote in the House on weather or not to proceed with an impeachment investigation.
In a televised statement delivered Tuesday at the Capitol, McCarthy cited allegations of “abuse of power, obstruction, and corruption,” against Biden that warranted “further investigation by the House of Representatives.”
The effort empaneled by McCarthy will be led by House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and House Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.).
McCarthy had previously stated that if Republicans were to “move forward with an impeachment inquiry, it would occur through a vote on the floor of the People’s House and not through a declaration by one person.” That was patently false.
According to Punchbowl News, McCarthy and his allies are expected to make a hard pitch to Republican leadership regarding the impeachment inquiry during a closed-door meeting on Thursday.
The decision by Republicans to forgo a House vote and move forward with an inquiry is not wholly unexpected. Chatter regarding an impeachment inquiry against Biden was already drawing pushback from less ravenous House Republicans in the days leading up to the announcement, and McCarthy faced the prospect of losing a floor vote due to dissent from his own party. Colorado Representative Ken Buck, a member of both the House Judiciary Committee and the hyper-conservative House Freedom Caucus, recently drew ire from his colleagues when he (correctly) pointed out that the investigations conducted by Comer and Jordan have yet to produce tangible evidence that President Biden profited directly from the business dealings of his son Hunter.
“The reality is that the impeachment process is one that is going on right now. The Judiciary Committee, the Oversight Committee, the Ways and Means Committee are all investigating. They’re developing really good information about Hunter Biden,” Buck said during a Sunday interview with MSNBC. “The time for impeachment is the time when there’s evidence linking President Biden — if there’s evidence linking President Biden to a high crime or misdemeanor. That doesn’t exist right now.”
“Kevin McCarthy, the speaker, has made promises on [several] issues to different groups. And now it is all coming due at the same time,” he added.
Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) also told Politico that “as of now” he does not support an impeachment inquiry. “There’s clearly corruption with Hunter using his Dad’s name to earn tens of millions of dollars. But impeachment needs to be about the dad, not the son,” Bacon added. “Many of us don’t want to see impeachment become something that is commonly used against every president.”
“Some people feel that the impeachment inquiry is being kind of dangled as a carrot, as a shiny object in order to get a just a continuing resolution pushed through. How does this play out in getting at least the government funded in the short run?” Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) told Fox News on Sunday. “Impeachment is just window dressing,” she added, “it’s not going to go anywhere. We need real spending cuts. We need real measures.”
McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) desire to advance the probes into the Bidens, above objections from some in his caucus, comes admits threats from Republicans frustrated with the slow advancement of the investigations against his speakership. Last week Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said that Republicans returning from the break should focus on “forcing votes on impeachment.”
“If Kevin McCarthy stands in our way [on impeachment], he may not have the job long,” Gaetz added.
Gaetz’s opposition to McCarthy’s leadership has been clear since he acted as ringleader for a group of “Never McCarthy” Republicans who forced 15 rounds of voting before granting the California representative his much-coveted speakership role. At the time, Gaetz and his posse secured a deal that would allow any single member of the House to introduce a motion to vacate against the speaker, but in order for Gaetz to succeed in ousting McCarthy he would need the cooperation of House Democrats.
“If I make a motion to remove Kevin, how many Democrat votes can I count on?” Gaetz wrote on X (formerly Twitter) in a weekend post responding to Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.). Gaetz is expected to hold a floor speech and press conference on Tuesday outlining his plan against McCarthy, but the reactions he’s getting from his own colleagues regarding his plans against the Speaker are unenthusiastic at best.
“I know he’s been tweeting about it,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a historic ally of Gaetz’s said on Monday. “I would hope not, I think that’s the wrong thing to do.”
For his part, McCarthy seems unfazed by the threats. “He should just go ahead and do it,” he told Axios on Monday.