What to know about the House vote to formalize the Biden impeachment inquiry


(WASHINGTON) — House Republicans are teeing up a vote as early as Wednesday to formalize their ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

The resolution will direct three powerful committees to continue investigating Biden to see if there are “sufficient grounds” to impeach him.

House Republicans, since retaking taking control of the chamber in January, have focused their attention on the Biden family’s business dealings, particularly those of the president’s son, Hunter. But they have so far found no hard evidence President Biden was directly involved in or benefited from the practices, as they’ve repeatedly alleged.

Speaker Mike Johnson has defended the probe, characterizing it as a “legal decision,” and previously projected optimism the resolution will pass. But after the historic expulsion of Rep. George Santos, the House GOP has only a three-vote margin of error.

“We have to take the next step,” Johnson said Tuesday at a news conference alongside other GOP leaders. “We’re not making a political decision. It’s not. It’s a legal decision. People have feelings about it one way or the other. We can’t prejudge the outcome; the Constitution does not permit us to do so. We have to follow the truth where it takes us. And that is exactly what we’re going to do.”

House Democrats contend the vote is “the culmination of the extreme MAGA Republican yearlong agenda exacting political retribution on behalf of Donald Trump.”

“It’s painfully obvious that they are trying to hurt President Biden politically to help President Trump get reelected,” House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., said Tuesday.

Here’s what to know:

Why are Republicans holding this vote?

The impeachment inquiry has been underway since Sept. 12, when former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy unilaterally launched the probe — a move seen as an attempt to appease conservative hard-liners on the verge of their revolt against his leadership.

McCarthy did so without first holding a vote on the House floor. It appeared at the time he wouldn’t have had the necessary support for the measure to pass.

The action was met with backlash from Democrats and the White House, and marked a reversal from McCarthy’s own criticisms of House Democrats for initiating their first impeachment inquiry into former President Donald Trump without a vote. House Democrats did authorize the inquiry a few weeks later, though didn’t authorize an inquiry for his second impeachment after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.

Now, Speaker Johnson argues they have “no choice” but to hold a vote, saying the White House is obstructing the Republicans’ investigation.

“We’ve come to this impasse where following the facts where they lead is hitting a stone wall because the White House is impeding that investigation now,” Johnson said Tuesday.

The White House has challenged some congressional requests, in part asserting the “Constitution requires that the full House authorize an impeachment inquiry before a committee may utilize compulsory process pursuant to the impeachment power.”

The White House has also said Republicans have already accessed 35,000 pages of private financial records and at least 36 hours of testimony. Ian Sams, the White House spokesperson for oversight and investigations, called the impeachment inquiry resolution a “baseless stunt.”

“The American people are yet again going to see a clear contrast in priorities: President Biden who is focused on solving the challenges facing America and the world, and extreme House Republicans who only focus on stupid stunts to get attention for themselves,” Sams said in a statement last week.

What will the vote mean?

Republican leaders said formalizing the inquiry will strengthen their subpoena power to obtain more documents and testimony.

And House GOP Majority Whip Emmer emphasized Tuesday that, “voting in favor of an impeachment inquiry does not equal impeachment.”

“We will continue to follow the facts wherever they lead,” Emmer said. “And if they uncovered evidence, treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors, then and only then will the next steps towards impeachment proceedings be considered.”

Moderate Republican Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, who said he’ll vote in favor of the impeachment inquiry, was asked Tuesday if a vote to impeach Biden is inevitable if the inquiry is formalized. “I don’t think so,” he responded.

“I may be an outlier on this. I think it’s more important to have this information for the elections, let the voters decide,” Bacon said. “And I don’t know that you’re gonna see a high crime or misdemeanor, but I think the voters deserve to know what did the Bidens do.”

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