House conservatives are glad they finally got their impeachment inquiry. But they were quick to say it won’t shield Speaker Kevin McCarthy from potential efforts to boot him.
Their issues with McCarthy when it comes to government spending, they argue, are separate from any impeachment considerations. Plus, they criticized him Tuesday for moving too late to launch a formal inquiry into President Joe Biden.
When asked if McCarthy’s impeachment announcement placates conservatives who are still considering forcing a vote to boot the speaker, Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) replied that the two topics are “independent of one another. So I don’t think it has any such effect, from my perspective.”
“To me, the commencement of an impeachment inquiry is overdue. It has been moving far too slowly. It shows tentativeness and hesitancy when it needs to show commitment to getting to it,” added Bishop, a House Freedom Caucus member.
It’s a negative sign not just for McCarthy, but any Republicans who hoped an impeachment inquiry could make conservatives more agreeable to avoiding a shutdown. The MAGA-aligned group, which isn’t always in agreement, was fairly united on the point Tuesday.
Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) called the inquiry “long overdue” but said it didn’t have any effect on possible future efforts to boot the speaker — known as the motion to vacate. Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) said “no, not at all,” when asked if the inquiry calms McCarthy ouster talk that picked up over the House’s five-week recess.
Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), another member of the group, put it even more bluntly: “Him starting an impeachment inquiry gives him no — zero — cushion, relief, brace, as it applies to spending.”
Clyde expressed frustration that the House didn’t work throughout the recess to try to deal with Sept. 30’s looming government spending deadline. And while he declined to discuss how he thinks it plays out for McCarthy in the long run, he said simply: “If motion to vacate happens, it is because it is deserved.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) said she wants an impeachment vote on President Joe Biden, rather than just an escalation of investigative efforts, pointing generally to evidence uncovered by House committees.
“I am not waiting throughout the rest of this Congress to hold Joe Biden and the rest of his family accountable,” Boebert added. “I’m ready for a straight up and down vote on the floor.”
But it wasn’t just Freedom Caucus members decoupling impeachment from McCarthy’s future. Some Republicans outside the group, who tend to vote similarly to the House GOP rebels, said they concurred.
“If you are trying to do the impeachment inquiry, thinking that is going to somehow keep you away from the motion to vacate … that’s not going to work,” said Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.), who acknowledged he tends to vote with the Freedom Caucus members most of the time.
“We know exactly what the timing is,” he added. “We know the D.C. Dance — when people started getting into trouble, they dangled just enough red meat over it to be able to try and make sure that the conservatives, and constitutionalists, and the other brothers on the far right can actually have something to bite onto. We know the fight is going to be in Appropriations.”
Still, some like Rep. Barry Moore (R-Ala.) did agree it may calm the waters a bit for the speaker.
“I think the impeachment is a good step in the right direction and I think Kevin’s doing the right thing,” Moore said.