WASHINGTON (AP) — Interest in impeaching President Joe BidenHard-right House Republicans forced a vote on Thursday that sent the matter to congressional committees, clearly proving a challenge to Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The majority is the controlling face of the party.
The ability of a single lawmaker in the 435-member House to launch an impeachment resolution this week caught Republicans off guard.
The action accuses Biden of “numerous crimes and misdemeanors” in connection with his handling of the US border with Mexico.
Rep. Lauren Bobert, backed by allies, was able to use House rules to force a snap vote on such a grave constitutional matter. A 219-208 party-line vote sent his resolution to committees for possible consideration, like any other bill. They are not obligated to do anything.
However, Bobert, R-Colo., argued during the debate that “the House is taking historic action.”
The episode underscores the grip that House conservatives have over Frank McCarthy, forcing him to accommodate their hard-right priorities if he wants to stay in power.
Conservatives are gearing up for more. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., was hoping to vote Wednesday to unseat Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff, the same method used by Bobert. Regarding his investigations into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.
“There will be no end to this,” Schiff said.
“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 debate, Republicans were repeatedly instructed by the presiding officer to tone down their comments.
Democrats have argued that the lawsuit against Biden mocks the seriousness of the impeachment and is merely an attempt to distract from Trump, who has been impeached twice.The former Republican president is now indicted under the Espionage Act for allegedly possessing classified documents.
“Today they dishonor this House and dishonor themselves by bringing this ridiculous impeachment resolution to the floor,” said Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee, which Trump recommended his allies push for it.
“This body has become a place where serious, exotic and nuanced issues are discussed passionately, and not as important,” McGovern said. “In short, the Republican Party is a joke.”
McCarthy, R-Calif., spent days of maneuvering to quell an uproar over a roll call that many within his party did not take.
A snap vote to impeach Biden would have been politically difficult for GOP lawmakers and an embarrassing scenario 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. A privilege resolution was used to force Boebert to vote.
Ultimately, McCarthy negotiated with her to send the Biden impeachment resolution to the House Judiciary Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee for consideration, briefly abstaining from a vote.
“I think it’s best for everybody,” McCarthy said.
But conservatives said such votes would be even higher.
“We’re just getting started,” said Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, an influential member of the House Freedom Caucus.
For example, conservatives are lining up votes to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and impeach Democratic Rep. Benny Thompson, who chaired the committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. Part of their effort is to divert control of the House from traditional centers of power, including the Speaker’s office.
“This is what we’ve been talking about,” said Florida’s Republican representative. said Matt Gaetz, a leader of conservative efforts to block McCarthy from becoming speaker.
If the committees drag their feet, Boebert said he would bring his resolution back to the floor “every day for the rest of my time here in Congress,” forcing a House 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 Wednesday, Rep. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, R-Ga., put Boebert on the Biden charge himself. Green has his own articles of impeachment against the president.
Greene later confirmed the report of the exchange and said of Bobert, “She has a great talent and ability to make most of the people here dislike her.”
Bobert declined to comment on the conversation, saying only that it was “not middle school.”
Trump has been impeached twice — on corruption and obstruction charges for withholding military aid to Ukraine while seeking political dirt on Biden, and then on Jan. 6, 2021, on charges of inciting a riot in the Capitol. Both times Trump was acquitted by the Senate.
Associated Press writers Farnoosh Amiri and Stephen Groves contributed to this report.
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