WASHINGTON (AP) — Interest in impeaching President Joe BidenHard-right House Republicans forced a vote on Thursday that would send the matter to congressional committees, clearly proving a challenge to Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The majority is the controlling face of the party.
A single legislator, Rep. The ability of Rep. Lauren Bobert, R-Colo., to push through an impeachment resolution caught Republicans off guard this week with unwritten action. Many saw this as a political distraction from other priorities.
The action accuses Biden of “numerous crimes and misdemeanors” in connection with his handling of the US border with Mexico.
Bobert, backed by his allies, a lone lawmaker in the 435-member House, showed how the chamber’s rules could be used to force a snap vote on such a grave constitutional matter. A vote would send the impeachment to committees for possible consideration like any other bill.
“The council is taking historic action,” Boebert said during the debate, though the committees are under no obligation to act.
The day-long episode underscored the hold the conservative side has on McCarthy, forcing him to accommodate hard-right priorities if he wants to stay in power. Even without the rewards, it empowers a small group of Republicans to use rare tactics to exert power over the vast House GOP majority.
Conservatives are still gearing up for such actions: The process Boebert used to force the issue was another hard-right conservative, Rep. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., was sent Wednesday to force a separate vote to censure Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff Regarding his investigations into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.
“There will be no end to this,” Schiff told The Associated Press and others in the Capitol Wednesday amid a no-confidence vote.
“Kevin McCarthy has no control over his conference,” Schiff said. “Fierce competition now drives the House of Representatives, and it certainly does terrible damage to the institution.”
During Thursday’s heated morning debate, Republicans were repeatedly admonished to tone down their comments as they blasted Biden over his handling of the border.
Angry Democrats have argued that the entire case against Biden mocks the seriousness of the impeachment and is an attempt to distract from twice-impeached Donald Trump, the former GOP president now indicted for allegedly hoarding classified documents under the Espionage Act.
“Today they dishonor this House and dishonor themselves by bringing this ridiculous impeachment resolution to the floor,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, the top Democrat on the Rules Committee, as Trump suggested his allies push for it.
“This body has become a place where serious, exotic and nuanced issues are discussed passionately, and not important,” said McGovern of Massachusetts. “In short, the Republican Party is a joke.”
Behind the scenes, Thursday’s decision capped days of Republican Speaker McCarthy maneuvering to quell an uproar within his GOP majority over an impeachment vote that many rank-and-file lawmakers did not want to take.
Such a snap vote to impeach Biden would have been politically difficult for GOP lawmakers and an embarrassing scene for McCarthy, dividing his party.. In a private meeting on Wednesday, McCarthy encouraged lawmakers to consider the traditional process of bringing forward such a resulting piece of legislation.
Ultimately, McCarthy negotiated with Bobert and sent the Biden impeachment resolution to the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees for reconsideration.
“I think it’s best for everybody,” McCarthy told reporters late Wednesday.
But conservatives vowed more such votes.
“We’re just getting started,” said Texas’ Republican Rep. Chip Roy, an influential member of the House Freedom Caucus, said during the floor debate.
Conservatives are lining up other such votes — to fire Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Jan. 6, 2021 – and they are rushing to condemn Rep. Benny Thompson, the Democrat who chaired the committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. Agenda.
It is part of a broader effort by the right to wrest control of the House away from traditional centers of power, including the Speaker’s office.
“This is what we’ve been talking about,” said Rep. Matt Gates of Florida, a leader of conservative efforts to block McCarthy from becoming speaker. They were brokers who had more say in the House process.
But in a sign of the right side’s commitment to moving forward, Bobert said he will bring his resolution back to the floor “every day for the rest of my time in Congress” if the committees move slowly. Vote on Biden’s impeachment.
Rank-and-file Republicans were furious at being forced to vote on a resolution to impeach Biden. They resented a lawmaker jumping the line of priorities.
In a fiery exchange heard on the House floor, hard-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green slams Bobert for taking the Biden charge on herself. Green has his own articles of impeachment against the president.
Greene later confirmed the exchange and said of Bobert, “She has a great talent and skill that most people here don’t like her.”
Bobert declined to comment on the conversation, saying only that it was “not middle school.”
“I want the anger directed at Ms. Bobert to be directed at the president and his policies,” said Rep. R-Va., a member of the Independent Caucus. Bob Good said.
Getz noted that when Democrats controlled the House, impeachment efforts by renegade lawmakers failed and the former president was eventually impeached before a majority supported the effort.
“It helped the Democrats build momentum, so this could be our version,” Gates said.
Trump has been impeached twice — on corruption and obstruction charges for withholding military aid to Ukraine while seeking political dirt on Biden, and later on Jan. 6, 2021, for inciting a riot in the Capitol that tried to overturn Biden’s election. Both times Trump was acquitted by the Senate.
Associated Press writers Farnoosh Amiri and Stephen Groves contributed to this report.