House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) — under pressure from the far-right — officially announced on Tuesday he is “directing” House committees to open an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden over unclear and bogus accusations manufactured by Donald Trump defenders in his caucus.
“Today I’m directing our House committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden,” McCarthy said during a news conference on Capitol Hill.
McCarthy’s announcement comes on the first day the House is back in session after their August recess.
Lawmakers have 11 legislative days to fund the government and avert a shutdown. But the far-right have been making it clear over the lengthy recess that they will continue to hold spending bills hostage until they get their various demands – which range from spending cuts to abortion restrictions to impeachment – are met.
For weeks before the August recess, MAGA House Republicans handicapped typically uneventful appropriations committee meetings and turned them into battle grounds over their party’s manufactured culture wars and far-right grievances.
MAGA Republicans tried to attach anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ amendments to the bills and claimed they wanted to cut government spending to pre-COVID levels. But instead they’ve created a handful of appropriations bills, some of which haven’t passed out of committee yet, that are dead on arrival in the Senate.
Democratic and Republican leadership in the House and Senate began discussing a short term spending bill during recess that could be passed upon return to buy Congress more time. But in a late August statement, the Freedom Caucus vowed to oppose any short-term solution unless leadership meets a list of demands.
“In the eventuality that Congress must consider a short-term extension of government funding through a Continuing Resolution, we refuse to support any such measure that continues Democrats’ bloated COVID-era spending and simultaneously fails to force the Biden Administration to follow the law and fulfill its most basic responsibilities,” the Freedom Caucus said in a statement.
Freedom Caucus member Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has also repeatedly hinted at the stakes here for McCarrthy, insisting that if the speaker stands in the way of the impeachment process, he’d seek to oust him from his position.
In early September, McCarthy told conservative media outlet Breitbart that he wouldn’t launch an impeachment inquiry into Biden without a House vote.
“To open an impeachment inquiry is a serious matter, and House Republicans would not take it lightly or use it for political purposes. The American people deserve to be heard on this matter through their elected representatives,” McCarthy told Breitbart News. “That’s why, if we move forward with an impeachment inquiry, it would occur through a vote on the floor of the People’s House and not through a declaration by one person.”
Eleven days later the Speaker announced his intentions to open an impeachment inquiry unilaterally, bypassing a floor vote.
That’s a major reversal from his previous remarks likely motivated by the hostage takers in his caucus. The impeachment inquiry is a carrot the Speaker can use to dangle in front of the far-right members as he tries to get them on board with a spending bill that can pass the Democratic-led Senate.
McCarthy’s announcement got quick support from House Freedom Caucus Vice Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH).