Updated Sep 12, 2023 - Politics & Policy

McCarthy opens impeachment inquiry into Biden without House vote

President Biden and Speaker McCarthy at the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon on St. Patricks Day at the Capitol in March. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday announced he is directing a trio of House committees to open an impeachment inquiry into President Biden.

Why it matters: The unilateral move is an apparent reversal of McCarthy's previous statement that a House vote would be held to launch such a probe.

  • It's an escalation of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committee investigations into the business dealings of Biden's son, Hunter.
  • Launching a formal probe gives Republicans added subpoena powers, McCarthy said in August.

What he's saying: "Today, I am directing our House committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden," McCarthy said in a brief statement at the Capitol on Tuesday.

  • McCarthy said the inquiry is the "logical next step" that will "give our committees the full power to gather all the facts and answers for the American public."
  • The speaker said the effort will be spearheaded by Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.), Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.).

Zoom in: It's unclear that House Republicans have the 218 votes to impeach Biden, and some Republicans in both the House and the Senate are on record saying they don't think there's enough evidence to proceed.

  • Bypassing a House vote means averting a potential blow to GOP momentum towards impeachment.
  • "As of now I don't support" an impeachment inquiry, Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) said on Tuesday.
  • Bacon said an inquiry "should be based on evidence of a crime that points directly to President Biden, or if the President doesn't cooperate by not providing documents."

What we're watching: But Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has been pushing McCarthy to deliver an impeachment probe — or face a leadership challenge.

  • Gaetz is speaking on the House floor on Tuesday and was expected to detail his grievances with McCarthy's leadership.
  • Some Democrats have pushed back on the suggestion that they would join with Gaetz to oust McCarthy, however.
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