WASHINGTON — The House could vote to formally authorize the GOP’s impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden as early as next week, according to Republicans leaving a closed-door conference meeting focused on the issue on Friday.
“That’s the plan,” Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., told reporters when asked if the House would vote on such a measure next week.
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., one of three committee chairs leading the impeachment inquiry, said that GOP leadership would determine the timing of the vote.
“The sooner the better,” said Comer, who added that Republicans’ time at home over Thanksgiving helped solidify support within their conference to officially authorize the inquiry.
“I think our conference went home last week and they heard from people at Walmart, people on Main Street who were like find out the truth about Joe Biden’s knowledge and involvement in his family shady business,” he told reporters.
House leadership has not yet commented on how soon a vote could take place.
It’s not yet clear that Republicans have the votes to succeed, particularly after their margin for error was cut from four to three votes with Friday’s expulsion of former Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y.
Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., who represents a swing district that Biden won, wouldn’t say whether he would vote to authorize an inquiry but criticized the president.
“The impeachment inquiry has been ongoing. Nancy Pelosi set this precedent. The White House now is saying that they don’t want to cooperate. We have already seen bank records that have come out that are pretty jarring, and contradict what the president said during the 2020 presidential campaign,” he said. “So there are a lot of questions. We will see what the speaker decides with the process as we move forward.”
‘Literally constitutional idiots’
Rep. Nick LaLota, R-N.Y., said he will vote to support the impeachment inquiry into Biden.
“The inquiry — nobody should be afraid of it,” he said. “It’s just a mere elicitation of facts and it gives subpoenas more power. And there seems to be a lot of smoke around where the president and his family have earned their money overseas. The American public deserves to know the facts surrounding how the president and his family earned that money.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, tore into his Republican colleagues, saying they have no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden and are trying to impeach him because they have no policy agenda.
“They’ve been at it for 10 months. They have not found a single shred of evidence that President Biden has engaged in any crime — a felony, a misdemeanor — much less than an impeachable offense. There’s simply nothing there,” Raskin said. “I’d like to teach them that the Constitution does not define impeachment as an opportunity to explain policy disagreements. Impeachment is for high crimes and misdemeanors against the union. And so we’re dealing with people who are literally constitutional idiots.”
A White House memo on Friday said that House Republicans have been investigating Biden since taking the majority in January and “they have failed to turn up any evidence of wrongdoing,” wrote Ian Sams, special assistant to the president and White House oversight spokesperson.
A decision for Speaker Mike Johnson
Then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., announced in September that Republicans would open an impeachment inquiry into the president, directing three committees to seek bank records and other documents from the president and his son Hunter Biden.
McCarthy was heavily scoffed at by Democrats because he had criticized then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in 2019 when she announced in September an impeachment inquiry into then-President Donald Trump without a formal House vote authorizing it.
The House voted to formalize rules and procedures for the Trump inquiry about a month later.
House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., and Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., a member of the Oversight Committee, both said the goal of a vote to authorize the GOP’s impeachment inquiry would be to bolster subpoenas from the Judiciary and Oversight committees in a potential court fight.
The House Oversight Committee recently subpoenaed several Biden family members beyond the president’s son, Hunter, and the White House is pushing back against those subpoenas.
In a Fox Business appearance Wednesday night, Emmer said that on Nov. 17, the White House notified Comer and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, saying it is not going to honor the subpoenas that have been issued without a floor vote.
“So, it’s very likely they’re going to have to go to court to enforce the subpoenas it looks like,” Emmer said. “The question is, does Speaker Johnson want to have a vote on the impeachment inquiry on the floor to build up that argument?”