Jun 21, 2023 - Politics & Policy

House GOP fumes as the right goes “rogue” on impeachment

Rep. Lauren Boebert, flanked by fellow members of the Freedom Caucus. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

House Republicans erupted into infighting on Wednesday as leadership and members across the conference pushed back on a burst of impeachment votes being forced by right-wing lawmakers.

Why it matters: It's an escalation of an increasingly acrimonious internal GOP dynamic as members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus try to seize control of the party's agenda.

  • "I think they've kind of gone rogue," said Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), an ally of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Driving the news: McCarthy, in a closed-door conference meeting on Wednesday, argued against Rep. Lauren Boebert's (R-Colo.) resolution to impeach Biden, according to multiple sources in the meeting.

  • The speaker said investigations into the Biden administration need to play out, and such resolutions have to run through the normal committee process, before any such vote takes place.
  • Even some members aligned with the Freedom Caucus were receptive to that case. "I like the committee system," Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) told, saying that an effort like Boebert's to circumvent it "frustrates me."

The intrigue: Boebert was not at the conference meeting despite McCarthy inviting her to speak, according to multiple sources.

The backdrop: Boebert's measure, which targets Biden's handling of the U.S.-Mexico border, isn't the only one being forced to a vote this week.

  • Rep. Anna Paulina Luna's (R-Fla.) resolution censuring Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is set to be voted on again on Wednesday after failing last week – although it appears to have the necessary GOP votes this time.
  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who has introduced impeachment resolutions against five Biden officials, told Axios: "Impeachment has to be done ... I do not have an exact timeline, but I'm converting them to privileged resolutions."

What they're saying: Several Republicans told Axios they don't plan to vote for Boebert's resolution, placing it in serious jeopardy. "I don't intend to," said Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.), another McCarthy ally.

  • Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) said he is "probably not" voting for what he called a "premature" impeachment, adding, "I may vote to impeach the president, but we need to go through a process."
  • "This motion is not going to pass. It's probably going to have quite a bit of opposition from both parties," Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.) told Axios.
  • "Impeachment [is] one of the awesome power of the Congress. It's not something you should flippantly exercise in two days," said Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), a McCarthy lieutenant, arguing it "actually undermines" future efforts.

Zoom in: Some swing-district members said in the conference meeting that Boebert's vote puts them in a tough political position, Biden-district Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told Axios: "It's not right. It's people thinking of themselves."

  • "They are just using [these motions] for raising campaign cash," one House Republican, speaking on the condition of anonymity, vented.
  • Duarte, another Biden-district member, told Axios he is "frustrated" with Boebert for bringing it up.
  • Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) predicted its impacts will be felt "more so, probably, in primaries," with moderates who vote against the resolution risking a challenge from the right.

The other side: "People are fed up with the weaponized government ... so, in my opinion, and the opinion of the base, we have all the evidence we need," Greene said.

  • "Everybody's got a different opinion," said Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.). "There's a question of timing, but there always is. You debate the issue, you discuss them ... if we get 218, that kind of rules."

What's next: The vote on Boebert's resolution is expected as soon as this week, with Democrats planning to introduce a motion to "table," or kill, the measure.

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