House Republicans are in 'civil war' amid Biden impeachment probe, looming shutdown: Jeffries

The Democratic leader said he wants to find a way to fund the government.

September 17, 2023, 11:22 AM

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries argued on Sunday that his Republicans colleagues are "in the middle of a civil war" over the best way forward amid a newly launched impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, an ongoing spending fight and another looming shutdown of the federal government.

"Civil war has the following attributes: chaos, dysfunction and extremism. The House Republican civil war is hurting hardworking American taxpayers and limiting our ability to be able to solve problems on their behalf," Jeffries told ABC "This Week" co-anchor Jonathan Karl, in an exclusive interview.

"It's unfortunate. But as House Democrats, we're going to continue to try to find common ground with the other side of the aisle," Jeffries said, adding: "Hopefully the House Republicans will come along so that we can work to make sure we are funding the government."

Jeffries also said the White House "will continue to cooperate" with the impeachment inquiry "because there is nothing to hide."

Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., appeared on "This Week" after Jeffries and acknowledged the GOP has its issues with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy but shot back: "I find it a little bit hypocritical that that is the divisive language that he used in his interview and talking about people over politics."

Referring to an earlier agreement on raising the nation's debt ceiling, Mace added, "If Democrats and, quite frankly, Republicans wanted to put people over politics, they would not have joined hands earlier this year to add $18.8 trillion to the debt."

Jeffries, in his own interview, laid the blame with the House's conservative majority, contending that Democrats want to "end the partisan, political gamesmanship that right now has captured House Republicans."

As Mace suggested, a major sticking point is on whether -- and where -- to cut government spending.

The House has only cleared one of 12 appropriations bills. So far, House Democrats have voted against the GOP funding bills since the conference marked the bills at levels lower than the spending caps agreed to by McCarthy and Biden in the debt-limit deal in June.

Asked about a possible federal government shutdown, Jeffries on Sunday called on Republicans to "stop fighting each other" and said he expects more conversations to occur but didn't say if he's discussed a path forward with McCarthy.

As some Republican members threaten to bring a motion to vacate to oust McCarthy, Jeffries also wouldn't say if House Democrats would help bail out the speaker.

"We haven't given it any thought one way or the other," he said.

"But what we should be focused on right now is avoiding an unnecessary government shutdown that will hurt the ability of our economy to continue to recover," he added.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries speaks at a press conference on Ethan's Law, a bill to prohibit unsafe gun storage, at the U.S. Capitol, on Sept. 13, 2023, in Washington, D.C.
Allison Bailey/NurPhoto via Shutterstock

Impeachment, Hunter Biden, more

On "This Week," Jeffries addressed the new impeachment inquiry into Biden, with McCarthy claiming a "culture of corruption" around the president -- which the White House calls baseless.

"There are no facts on the record to suggest that President Biden engaged in impeachable offenses. There are no facts on the record to suggest that President Biden broke the law in any way, shape or form," Jeffries said.

He called the probe another "product of the House Republican civil war." McCarthy had originally said there would be a vote to launch it, but it was unclear if he had sufficient votes to do so and he ultimately launched one anyway.

"House Republicans have uncovered serious and credible allegations into President Biden's conduct," he said last week.

Congressional Republicans have long been investigating what they claim are illicit ties between the president and his son Hunter Biden, particularly around Hunter Biden's controversial overseas business dealings.

No evidence has emerged to show the president was directly involved in Hunter Biden's business decisions or made decisions because of them.

On Thursday, Hunter Biden was charged in Delaware for allegedly lying about his drug use when he bought a gun in 2018. His attorney said on "Good Morning America" last week that the case is "likely unconstitutional" and insisted it will be dismissed.

The minority leader said on "This Week" that Hunter Biden's indictment proves there is no interaction between the president and the administration's Department of Justice, which has been investigating Hunter Biden.

"Hunter Biden is entitled to the presumption of innocence. The matter is before a court of law right now, and let's see how it proceeds," Jeffries said. "I think what's more important is that President Joe Biden continues to lead us forward to focus on the things that matter."

Separately, in the wake of a United Auto Workers strike, Jeffries said he will be traveling to Detroit on Sunday afternoon and is "looking forward to standing in solidarity with" them as they "are fighting for the fundamental American dream."

He said he hopes the strike will end "sooner rather than later."

One issue that Jeffries deflected on entirely was Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Former House Speaker Pelosi did not directly answer a question in an interview last week about whether Harris, who has poor approval ratings, is Biden's best choice as running mate. Karl pressed Jeffries on why.

Jeffries said Pelosi is "very capable of answering that question on her own."

But he endorsed Harris himself, saying, "She'll be a great running mate. She's been a tremendous partner in the things that President Biden has been able to accomplish."