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US House Republicans Set to Hold First Biden Impeachment Hearing Next Week

FILE - U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 14, 2023.
FILE - U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 14, 2023.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are set to hold their first hearing next week in the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Joe Biden. But with a very slim majority in the lower chamber of the U.S. Congress, it appears unlikely Republicans will be able to pass the articles of impeachment needed to trigger a trial of the president in the U.S. Senate.

The House Oversight Committee next Thursday will investigate allegations Biden improperly used his position as vice president to help his son Hunter’s foreign business dealings. Republicans also allege Biden used his official office to coordinate those efforts and was protected from investigations into those claims by his own administration.

“These allegations paint a picture of a culture of corruption,” Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy told reporters last week while announcing the launch of the inquiry.

Multiple Republican-led House committees investigated the allegations for months prior to the launch of the inquiry and did not find any evidence supporting those claims.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said during a hearing Wednesday that Republicans “have wasted countless taxpayer dollars on baseless investigations into President Biden and his family. Desperate to find evidence for an absurd impeachment and desperate to distract from the mounting legal peril facing Donald Trump.”

What are the allegations against President Biden?

Chief among House Republicans’ claims of corruption is an allegation that then-Vice President Biden pushed for the removal of Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin in 2015 because of Shokin’s investigations into Burisma, the Ukrainian company whose board membership included Hunter Biden.

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, one of the three members of Congress leading the impeachment inquiry, told conservative news network Newsmax, this week, “We've got a president that's compromised. We've got a president who has violated laws who should be treated as a criminal.”

How has the White House responded?

In a memo to reporters, the White House noted that years of independent reporting and an investigation by the House Foreign Affairs Committee found that Biden committed no wrongdoing and was carrying out a policy developed by the U.S. State Department and carried out by the International Monetary Fund. Additionally, the White House said evidence shows Biden pushed for Shokin to be harder on corruption and that the Ukrainian prosecutor general was not investigating Burisma.

FILE - President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden are seen leaving a church service in Johns Island, South Carolina, Aug. 13, 2022, during a family vacation.
FILE - President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden are seen leaving a church service in Johns Island, South Carolina, Aug. 13, 2022, during a family vacation.

Do Republicans have the votes to impeach Biden?

The two-step process for removing federal officials from office is laid out in the U.S. Constitution. In the first step of the process, the U.S. House of Representatives must pass articles of impeachment by a majority vote. Republicans only hold a slim majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, with 221 Republicans, 212 Democrats and 2 vacancies. Many Republicans from more moderate districts have expressed concerns about impeaching Biden, particularly heading into a presidential election year.

In an opinion piece published by the Washington Post this week, Rep. Ken Buck, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, wrote, “Republicans in the House who are itching for an impeachment are relying on an imagined history.”

House Speaker McCarthy can only afford to lose a handful of Republican votes or risk failure on a vote to impeach Biden.

Will the impeachment inquiry continue if there is a government shutdown?

McCarthy is facing difficulties within his own party passing a spending bill that will fund the U.S. government past a September 30th deadline. If disagreements within the Republican party remain, the U.S. government will shut down. This will stop all but the most essential work throughout government agencies and in the U.S. House of Representatives, meaning lawmakers will not be able to hold an impeachment hearing.

The White House said in a statement this week, the impeachment inquiry was a distraction from Republicans’ inability to govern.

“Extreme House Republicans are already telegraphing their plans to try to distract from their own chaotic inability to govern and the impacts of it on the country. Staging a political stunt hearing in the waning days before they may shut down the government reveals their true priorities: to them, baseless personal attacks on President Biden,” White House Spokesperson Ian Sams said in a statement.

What will happen in the Senate?

If the U.S. House of Representatives is able to pass articles of impeachment, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will be in charge of deciding when and if the Senate holds a trial of Biden. Schumer has called the charges “absurd” and could decide not to hold a trial, where the Democratic majority would almost certainly never attain the two-thirds majority required to convict the president and remove him from office.