House Republicans are trying to wrap up their impeachment effort against Joe Biden by January, a move that could disrupt attempts to avert a government shutdown.
Republicans have sought for months to prove that the president is guilty of influence peddling and corruption. The GOP’s lengthy investigation and impeachment proceedings have yet to produce any actual evidence of Biden’s wrongdoing. But House Republicans are hoping to finish the impeachment inquiry by January and then decide whether to file formal articles of impeachment.
“We get those depositions done this year and…then we can decide on whether or not there’s articles,” House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told Politico in a Tuesday story.
But that schedule would run right up against one of two deadlines for the government budget. Biden signed an eleventh-hour temporary spending bill last week, delaying a potential government shutdown until 2024. Congress has until January 19 to pass appropriations bills for some federal agencies, and until February 2 to determine funding for the rest.
This could spell doom for the impeachment effort. The Republican majority in the House is razor-thin, and the entire caucus would need to vote unanimously for impeachment articles to pass.
It’s unclear that the impeachment backers have the votes. Many centrist Republicans have indicated they don’t think the impeachment inquiry turned up sufficient proof. Meanwhile, there are 18 Republicans who won in districts that Biden carried in 2020. Backing impeachment could put those 18 in vulnerable positions ahead of the 2024 elections.
“Any kind of an impeachment puts our Biden people in a really tough spot,” a GOP lawmaker involved in the investigation told Politico, speaking anonymously. “Impeachment hurts us politically—it makes our base feel better.”
Even some hard-line Republicans are skeptical of the impeachment inquiry. Colorado Representative Ken Buck, a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus, has been an outspoken critic of the impeachment effort.
In July, Buck accused then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy of using “impeachment theater” to distract from his efforts to reach a deal on the federal budget.
“What he’s doing is he’s saying, ‘There’s a shiny object over here, and we’re really going to focus on that. We just need to get all these things done so that we can focus on the shiny object,’” Buck said. “Most of us are concerned about spending.”
Buck has decided not to seek reelection, so he won’t be worried about any consequences from voting against articles of impeachment. But other budget hawks may follow his lead.