As House Republicans pressed Tuesday to advance an impeachment inquiry targeting President Joe Biden, Democrats decided to rehash Donald Trump’s two impeachments. 

The House Rules Committee ultimately voted 9-4 along party lines to adopt and send a resolution to the full House floor formalizing an impeachment inquiry into alleged influence peddling by the president and close family members, especially son Hunter Biden

The vote on the resolution, HR 918, came days after the younger Biden was indicted by a California grand jury on nine felony and misdemeanor charges of violating the tax code.

“This is a weighty responsibility, one that we all take seriously, and we must do our duty for ourselves and the institution of the nation,” House Rules Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., said in opening the committee meeting. 

“We are here to determine a process, not an outcome,” Cole said, citing a duty under the Constitution. “We are here to assert our Article 1 responsibility, not to act as judge or jury. We are here fundamentally to chart a path forward that unveils the facts to the public.”

The Republican majority on the Rules Committee defeated a slew of amendments from Democrats. 

A vote to begin an impeachment inquiry isn’t a vote for impeaching the president. Rather, the move opens a formal investigation. 

In September, then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., endorsed an impeachment inquiry to scrutinize Biden’s actions—but held no House vote to proceed with a formal investigation.

Before the committee convened, new Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., told reporters that the House must follow the Constitution and open the inquiry. 

“We have to follow the truth where it takes us. That is exactly what we are going to do,” Johnson told reporters. “I would note too that people are frustrated sometimes with the time that is being invested in this. This is the way the Founders anticipated that something like this would go. There shouldn’t be anything like a snap impeachment, a sham impeachment like the Democrats did against President Trump. This is the opposite of that.”

Ian Sams, senior adviser to the White House counsel’s office, decried what he called a lack of transparency in the Republican-led investigation, a concern echoed by Democrats on the Rules Committee. 

“House Rs can’t even answer basic questions about the ‘evidence’ they’re keeping secret from the public & refusing to release,” Sams wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter. “As they’re caught in rampant hypocrisy claiming they’ve been transparent. It’s because they know their own witnesses have refuted their false allegations.”

The resolution effectively would authorize three House committees—Oversight and Accountability; Ways and Means; and Judiciary—to continue the investigation. 

“It’s a shocking weaponization of the impeachment process by MAGA extremists who are dead set on doing anything and everything they can to help elect Donald Trump,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., ranking member of the Rules Committee, referring to the acronym for “Make America Great Again,” Trump’s campaign slogan.

McGovern went on to talk about the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. 

“They’re upset Trump lost. He’s upset he lost. Some of them don’t even believe he lost,” McGovern said. “Many of them are upset that the insurrection didn’t succeed on Jan. 6. Today they want to finish the job. What’s left in the toolbox? An impeachment stunt to hang around Joe Biden’s neck to tarnish him as he heads into the next election.”

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., called the impeachment inquiry  a “MAGA kangaroo court.” 

“The former president’s lackeys in Congress are running the show, holding the floor hostage as they attempt to curry favor to obtain positions in a second Trump administration,” Scanlon said. “Meanwhile, the rest of their conference seems content to sleepwalk into dictatorship as they view what remains of their caucus in the most extreme members of the Republican Party.”

The Pennsylvania Democrat proposed an amendment to the resolution that would insert language praising the Biden administration’s cooperation with congressional investigators. 

“My amendment would shed some light on this shameful process and expose it for what it is; a circus and a farce whipped up to placate the disgraced, defeated, and twice impeached former president,” Scanlon said. 

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., scoffed at Democrats’ focus on Trump. 

“It’s really humorous the fever that I see from the other side to continually bring up Donald Trump. This is about Joe Biden,” Norman said, adding: 

To put some context to the money we are talking about: From 2014 to 2019, Biden family members and their affiliate companies received over $15 million from foreign companies and foreign nationals from Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Romania, and China.

Biden business associates received an additional $9 million. For the president’s contention he didn’t know anything about it, wasn’t anywhere near his son’s business dealings, Devon Archer, a longtime Biden associate, described the Biden brand and how Hunter Biden placed Joe Biden on phone calls, including on speakerphone, 20 times with business associates. For you all to want to water this down and say it’s nothing, what are you scared of?

Republican lawmakers have argued that a formal impeachment inquiry—a process authorized under the Constitution—is necessary to compel the White House and the Biden family to provide documents and testimony that otherwise wouldn’t be required by regular congressional oversight.

Formal approval by a full House is not a constitutional requirement, but it does give the impeachment inquiry more credibility. 

In 2019, Republicans were heavily critical of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for unilaterally declaring an impeachment inquiry targeting Trump for a phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Eventually, the full Democrat-controlled House approved the inquiry. 

However, the House didn’t formalize an inquiry or hold hearings ahead of Trump’s second impeachment for his role in the Capitol riot, which Democrats call an insurrection. 

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email, and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.