McCarthy accused of using possible Biden impeachment inquiry as 'leverage' to pass spending deal to avoid shutdown

September 7, 2023
Ben Marquis

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has increasingly suggested that a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden could soon be launched, but not all House Republicans fully believe the speaker's sincerity in the matter.

In fact, some House Republicans have said that McCarthy is trying to "dangle" an impeachment inquiry as a way to distract or dissuade conservative opposition against a possible short-term spending deal to avoid a potential government shutdown, according to Fox News.

Current funding for the federal government runs out at the end of the fiscal year on September 30, and without separate appropriations bills being passed by both the House and Senate, a government shutdown will ensue unless a short-term deal, known as a continuing resolution or CR, is agreed upon to briefly extend current funding levels while negotiations over next year's spending levels continue.

McCarthy dangling impeachment as "leverage" for a spending deal

Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) told Fox News, "It's almost as if the Speaker is trying to dangle the prospect of proceeding with an impeachment inquiry to attempt to leverage people to vote for a clean CR or other spending proposals that do not comply with the agreement made when we agreed to support him for Speaker in January."

"An impeachment inquiry is called for against Biden because of the evidence of corrupt dealing on behalf of his son," the North Carolina congressman added. "It should never be connected with the idea of trying to coerce members to vote for a spending provision that is otherwise unwarranted."

One unnamed House Republican previously told the outlet of McCarthy, "He's using impeachment to distract from the issues that he has with the appropriations bills."

Desperate to avoid a government shutdown

The Associated Press reported last month that Speaker McCarthy, given the lack of agreement on next year's spending levels between the House and Senate and Democrats and Republicans -- if not even within his own House GOP conference -- had begun to float the idea of passing a short-term CR to continue funding the government through December.

That idea, which reportedly has the support of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), would at least temporarily forestall a potential government shutdown -- and the inevitable blame for Republicans by Democrats and their media allies -- while providing more time for negotiations on the separate appropriations bills.

McCarthy would likely be hard-pressed to garner support for such a CR from conservative lawmakers who have demanded substantial spending cuts, hence the accusation that he is attempting to tie together an impeachment inquiry with a spending deal to either distract or appease the opposition within his own ranks.

"The American people will not be fooled into believing that talking about impeachment inquiry in some way diminishes our responsibility to cut spending," Rep. Bob Good, who supports a Biden impeachment and opposes a CR, told Fox News. "Do I think there is the possibility, if not the probability, that it's intended to be a distraction? I would agree with it, or there is that possibility. However, it’s not fooling anyone."

McCarthy's "political minefield" of his own making

Meanwhile, The Hill reported that Speaker McCarthy has now found himself in the middle of a "political minefield" that could prove disastrous if he makes a misstep in attempting to juggle both a prospective impeachment inquiry and shutdown-avoiding spending deal over the coming weeks.

He is trying to balance on the one hand the fervent calls from a majority of Republicans for an impeachment inquiry versus a few moderates who want to see more evidence, while on the other hand, he has some members threatening a shutdown if spending cuts aren't imposed while other members are desperate to avoid a shutdown and the inevitable political blame and backlash that comes with it.

Robert Donachie, a former congressional GOP aide who now heads a PR firm, told The Hill of McCarthy's apparent gambit, "Conservatives welcome the impeachment proceedings to uncover Biden family corruption, but it can’t be used as a distraction to give the Biden administration a blank check."

"He can’t posture on impeaching Biden to fund a weaponized federal government that will continue a two-tiered system of justice, an open border, and fix nothing that Americans truly want to see accomplished. Outside observers don’t see how his Speakership survives if he fails to actually have a fight," he added.

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