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Analysis: Johnson sets up formal impeachment vote McCarthy never sought

John T. Bennett, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

Speaker Mike Johnson is moving forward with a floor vote to formalize House Republicans’ impeachment probe of President Joe Biden, a move former Speaker Kevin McCarthy floated but never made.

The difference in approach begs a simple-but-complex question: What changed?

Johnson has signaled through words and actions that he and other House GOP leaders were confident they would have ample Republican votes on the floor to formally authorize the inquiry. He told reporters that “the House has no choice” but to approve an impeachment resolution and an accompanying measure that spells out subpoena powers for the three committees conducting the inquiry.

Aaron Cutler, a former senior aide to then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Friday that “with the presidential election less than a year away, the speaker is trying to put the impeachment inquiry on the most solid legal footing possible.”

House action is needed because the White House and Biden’s camp are collectively stonewalling, Johnson has argued.

“We must be very methodical and careful and follow the facts where they lead,” the speaker told Fox News on Sunday. “The impeachment inquiry is the next necessary step because the White House is now stonewalling our investigation.”


Johnson told reporters last week that “we have come to this sort of inflection point because … right now the White House is stonewalling that investigation. … They’re refusing to turn over key witnesses to allow them to testify, as they’ve been subpoenaed.”

McCarthy, a California Republican who plans to resign at the end of the year, made a similar argument earlier this year while never moving toward a floor vote.

What’s more, Johnson said the full House blessing the inquiry is necessary “so that when the subpoenas are challenged in court, we’ll be at the apex of our constitutional authority.”

Again, the former speaker made similar arguments.


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