WASHINGTON — Republican leaders said Tuesday the House will likely vote to formalize their impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden next week — the last week the chamber is scheduled to be in session before lawmakers leave for the holidays.
There was a small possibility the vote could take place this week, but Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., and Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., both said the vote — if it happens — would occur “next week” as the leaders left a closed-door meeting of House Republicans.
On Sept. 12, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy unilaterally launched an impeachment inquiry into Biden over his family’s business dealings after Republicans, with their thin majority, conceded they didn’t have the votes to pass it on the floor.
But Republicans have grown frustrated by the White House’s argument that they don’t need to comply with some subpoenas because the House did not take a formal vote authorizing the inquiry into the Biden family’s business dealings.
Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., who was a constitutional lawyer before entering Congress, and other Republicans now argue that they need to take this inquiry vote to be able to challenge the White House in court, even as Biden officials maintain that nothing from the GOP probe has supported allegations of wrongdoing by the president.
“We’ve come to this sort of inflection point because the White House is stonewalling that investigation. They’re refusing to turn over key witnesses to allow them to testify as they’ve been subpoenaed. They’re refusing to turn over thousands of documents from the National Archives,” Johnson said at a news conference Tuesday.
“And the House has no choice: If it’s going to follow his constitutional responsibility to formally adopt an impeachment inquiry on the floor, so when the subpoenas are challenged in court, we are at the apex of our constitutional authority.”
“This vote is not a vote to impeach President Biden,” the speaker continued. “This is a vote to continue the inquiry of impeachment, and that’s a necessary constitutional step.”
The new comments come as leaders have projected growing confidence that they have the votes to officially launch the impeachment investigation. A handful of vulnerable moderates who previously had expressed strong reservations about an impeachment inquiry now say they support it due to the White House’s intransigence.
“When the White House now says they don’t need to provide some of the requested info because there’s no formal inquiry, then we need an inquiry,” said moderate Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., who is one of the 17 vulnerable Republicans who represent districts won by Biden in 2020.
There had been 18 GOP Biden districts, but New York Republican George Santos was expelled from the House last week, leaving Johnson and the GOP with just a three-seat majority.
Others in that group of 17, including Reps. Nick LaLota, R-N.Y., and John Duarte, R-Calif., have also pledged to back an impeachment inquiry vote.
"I believe we currently have an unregistered foreign agent as president, and I am ready to see this impeachment inquiry go forward as quickly as possible," Duarte said.
Asked whether he was worried about vulnerable Republicans going on record on the inquiry, Johnson argued that the moderates in his party "understand this is not a political decision."
"This is a legal decision, it's a constitutional decision," the speaker said. "And whether someone is for impeachment is of no import right now. We have to continue our legal responsibility and that is only, solely, what this vote is about."
White House spokesman Ian Sams accused the speaker and House Republicans of following the lead of far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who has aggressively called for the impeachment of Biden.
“Americans already overwhelmingly believe House Republicans are prioritizing the wrong things, and any vote to move ahead with MTG’s favorite pastime would reveal that she is truly calling the shots in this extreme House Republican conference,” Sams said in a statement.
“All these House Republicans and their colleagues should answer for why they would change tune now and go along with her baseless exercise to smear President Biden when their allegations have already been thoroughly fact-checked and debunked.”