Jun 21, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Impeachment, censure and contempt fervor takes over Congress

Data: Quorum; Chart: Axios Visuals

As House Republicans decry the weaponization of the federal government, they have been quick to wield their own power to impeach, censure and hold people in contempt of Congress.

Why it matters: Politicization is spiraling out of control, seeping into the congressional record as impeachment and censure resolutions far outpace the historical norm.

Driving the news: The House voted 213-209 on Wednesday to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) over his role in investigating the 2016 Trump campaign's ties to Russia.

  • Schiff led impeachment efforts against the former president.
  • Other members are now champing at the bit to get their own impeachment resolutions to the floor. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) has sparked internal chaos by trying to force a vote on impeaching President Biden this week.
  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) plans to follow suit and has filed five impeachment resolutions this Congress already.

By the numbers: House members have filed 12 impeachment resolutions this year, targeting Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State Tony Blinken and others, according to data pulled by Quorum.

  • Four were filed this month.
  • Four resolutions to censure Schiff and one to censure Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chair of the now-defunct House Jan. 6 committee, have been submitted since the start of the year.

House investigators have also made serious threats to hold contempt votes to force Biden officials to hand over more information.

  • Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) canceled an effort at the last minute to hold FBI Director Christiopher Wray in contempt to pressure him into handing over a document detailed unsubstantiated bribery allegations against the Biden family.
  • Foreign Affairs Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) similarly pulled a contempt resolution against Blinken, after he was finally granted access to a sensitive Afghanistan memo.
  • Republicans also introduced a resolution recommending former federal prosecutor Mark Pomerantz be held in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena related to the Manhattan DA's investigation of former President Trump.

The big picture: Still, the 2023 total falls short of the 26 impeachment, censure and contempt actions taken in 2021, which included steps taken by Democrats against Trump and other election deniers involved in Jan. 6.

  • Republicans also filed several impeachment and censure resolutions in 2021 against Biden officials and Democratic members.

Between the lines: Many of the filings this year have come from a handful of right-wing firebrands known for grabbing headlines — such as Greene and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

  • Greene herself has been the target of two resolutions to condemn her inflammatory remarks and censure her since she's been in office.
  • She has been known to use her impeachment efforts as fundraising fodder, as Axios has reported.
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