House Republicans to move forward on formalizing Biden impeachment inquiry next week

Speaker Mike Johnson said he believes Republicans will have the votes they need.

The House Rules Committee announced Thursday it will consider a resolution next week to formalize Republicans' ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, and the White House called the move a "baseless stunt."

The panel will mark up a resolution on Tuesday, Dec. 12 to direct the House Oversight, Judiciary and Ways and Means committees to continue their work investigating Biden.

As the House prepares to take action next week, lawmakers are digging into partisan trenches -- setting up a party-line vote.

Even moderate GOP impeachment skeptics who represent districts that Biden won in 2020 are coming around in support of the resolution. House Speaker Mike Johnson previously told reporters he believed Republicans would have the necessary support for the resolution to pass.

"It is the legislative branch's responsibility to assert our responsibility," said New York Rep. Marc Molinaro. "Without question there are issues of impropriety, and they have to be confronted."

While Democrats defend President Biden, insisting the months-long inquiry has failed to yield evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors, Republicans complain that the administration's obstruction of subpoenaed document production and witness testimony justifies a vote to formalize the inquiry. The White House has pushed back on claims its obstructing the process, saying its handed over thousands of financial records and 36 hours of witness testimony.

"It's a necessary step in order to help any legal challenges," Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., explained. "It's a formality and it's party of finding the actual truth."

Rep. Don Bacon, who had previously said he would not vote to support the impeachment inquiry resolution, has also changed his mind.

"We have to vote for an inquiry to get the information that's being subpoenaed," Bacon, R-Neb., said. "He's refusing to hand over documents right now, saying we don't have a formal impeachment inquiry because we didn't vote for it. Which means we've got to vote for an inquiry because documents are being requested."

PHOTO: Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., center, is joined by, from left, Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., Tom Emmer, R-Minn., and James Comer, R-Ky., Nov. 29, 2023, in Washington.
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., center, is joined by, from left, Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., Tom Emmer, R-Minn., and James Comer, R-Ky., Nov. 29, 2023, in Washington.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Democrats like Rep. Jamie Raskin, dismissed the legal gains Republicans could potentially enjoy after passing a resolution formalizing the inquiry -- insisting "all of it adds up to zilch, zero."

"There was no criminal conduct -- obviously," Raskin, D-Md., claimed. "This is all for Donald Trump."

"It's unfortunate because we have much more important things to do for the American people," Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., said.

House Republicans have alleged, without proof, that Biden was directly involved in and benefited from his family's business dealings.

"This baseless stunt is not rooted in facts or reality but in extreme House Republicans' shameless desire to abuse their power to smear President Biden," Ian Sams, the White House spokesperson for oversight and investigations, said in a statement. "Fox News already reported that the only reason they're having this vote is to 'put a GOP win on the table for the base,' which is sad, pathetic, and a waste of everyone's time."

Sams added, "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."

Republicans concede the evidence is not there yet to draft articles of impeachment, but expect the vote to change the dynamics of the inquiry.

"Even the Republican lawyers in the conference doesn't think we've met the [threshold] for high crimes and misdemeanors. We're not impeaching his son, right?" Bacon said. "But there is information that the two committees, in particular, want and the president is not handing it over, and it's important. And so that's why we're having an inquiry."

Lawmakers have held one public hearing related to the impeachment inquiry, which offered several contentious moments but no new evidence.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said Thursday that Republicans are pursuing impeachment against Biden because they "have nothing to show for their narrow, fading and decreasing majority -- nothing."

"They want to hide their extreme right-wing agenda from the American people. And that's why we continue to see censure resolution after censure resolution being brought to the floor. And next week, we're going to waste time on an illegitimate impeachment inquiry targeting President Biden and his family."