The Republican-led House of Representatives can still impeach President Biden.
But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., had to step in to call for a swift impeachment this week by Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo.
“Privileged” resolutions are a particular asset in the House. They are used only in special circumstances pertaining to the Constitution. That includes discipline of members or impeachment. Such resolutions go to the front of the legislative line. The House must deal with such privileged cases almost immediately.
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Boebert grew weary of what she said made House Republicans hesitant about potentially impeaching President Biden over the southern border. That is to say nothing of the questions many GOPers have about the president’s ethics, alleged or alleged crimes, and Hunter Biden’s misdeeds. But despite robust investigations into all of these matters by the House Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways & Means Committees, Boebert had had enough. She would go it alone and try to depose Mr. Biden with her own privileged resolution.
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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was forced to face an impeachment attempt against President Biden this week by Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert quit. (Getty Images)
“I was tired of politicians telling us something we wanted to hear, where we send them and trust them to be our voice and do something completely different. This is not a talking point for me. This is an action item,” said Bobert in an interview.
Any member can put forward a privileged decision. But they are mostly the province of the minority party, because they do not master the word. Yet Boebert and Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., recently deployed privileged resolutions to bypass house leaders and force action against their pet initiatives.
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Luna tried twice with a privileged resolution Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, censor. The first measure failed. But the second succeeded.
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This is ironic because Republicans have long touted a return to “normal order” in their quest to run the House. In his effort to secure the Speakership, McCarthy vowed not to simply hand over bills from above. He wanted legislation to bubble through subcommittees and committees before they got the floor. Leaders would not drop legislation on legislators in the dead of night.
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An attempt to punish a legislator with censorship—the second most severe form of official discipline in the House—usually goes through the committee. Same with articles of impeachment. The ethics committee normally spent months investigating a member’s alleged wrongdoings before sending a censure to the Chamber. Impeachment of the president could require months of closed-door depositions, public hearings and floor debates. That was the process for impeaching former President Trump in late 2019. However, the House was much more hasty in impeaching Mr. Trump the second time after the U.S. Capitol riot.
But nothing says a member can’t introduce a privileged resolution to censor a fellow legislator or even impeach the president without going through the extra machinations. If the House votes to censor or impeach, you are censored or impeached. The mechanics are not required.
Even if that’s the “regular order”. Or, the “normal order”
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“Maybe we’re redefining regular order,” Luna said in an interview. “Maybe we’re redefining what the typical process would be and members having more of a say.”
Letting his supporters have a “vote” is key to McCarthy’s political success as Speaker. He promised to give members more say in the legislative process. The Speaker certainly agreed in denouncing his Golden State nemesis Schiff for his role in the Russia investigation. And while McCarthy is not a fan of President Biden, he knows that impeachment of presidents comes at a huge political cost.
President Joe Biden recently offended a reporter after asking the president about his alleged corruption involving Ukraine and his son Hunter Biden. Biden called the question “silly”. (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
As speaker, McCarthy must protect the integrity of the institution, speakership and the severity of impeachment. That is to say nothing about guarding vulnerable Republicans from battlefield districts who look suspiciously at impeachment.
Many congressional Republicans are hinting at impeachment to keep them in the good graces of conservative voters back home. But they know impeachments are rare and they may never have to vote on such a proposal, despite the spicy rhetoric. So for Boebert talking was cheap.
So she sidestepped the usual impeachment committee process by laying a privileged resolution on the floor without the typical revolutions.
“Advancing this privileged motion to impeach Joe Biden absolutely forces members to shut up. If most Republicans (governed) like them (campaigned), we’d be a lot better off,” Boebert said.
But Boebert’s approach failed to impress some of her GOP colleagues.
“We cannot turn impeachment into the equivalent of a vote of no confidence in the British Parliament,” said R-Penn Deputy Brian Fitzpatrick. “If we do that, we’re lowering what impeachment is. It should be a last resort. Not a first resort.”
Boebert failed to appear at a meeting of all House Republicans on Wednesday morning to present and garner support for her impeachment resolution.
“I don’t think one minute of speaking time at (the Republican) Conference could convince anyone,” Boebert said. “I don’t think that was something that took precedence over my busy schedule.”
For the record, nearly every House Republican also attends those same meetings and somehow finds a way to cram those weekly conclaves into their schedules.
“I believe in team sports you have to work together. And this was one person who undermined the team,” Rep. said. Don Bacon, R-Neb., About Boebert. “Accusation should not be something that is frivolous and treated that way.”
McCarthy had to puncture Boebert’s resolution. But he, too, was unimpressed by the Colorado Republican’s gamble.
“You just don’t put something on the floor flippantly,” McCarthy said. “You follow the research wherever it takes you.”
McCarthy then met Boebert.
“I don’t think my actions are lighthearted,” Boebert said afterwards. “I believe they are very deliberate.”
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But McCarthy had no intention of letting Boebert’s impeachment resolution stand on the floor. Nor did he intend to expose vulnerable Republicans to a scenario where they voted to introduce the impeachment resolution and then received flak from archconservatives in their districts. However, McCarthy wanted to prevent the Democrats from introducing the resolution as well.
So McCarthy devised a special provision to handle Boebert’s impeachment resolution. The House would vote on a “rule” to send the impeachment order to the judiciary and Homeland Security Committees. How much those committees have investigated is then up to them. But McCarthy’s plan kept Boebert’s resolve alive. And it simultaneously inoculated Republican lawmakers against impeachment so they couldn’t take criticism for rejecting Boebert’s attempt.
In addition, legislators like Fitzpatrick and Bacon also got their wishes. Commissions could now proceed to investigate the president — with the possibility of impeachment.
“The timeline of our investigation is pretty much in our heads,” said Mark Green, R-Tenn, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “We kind of know the path.”
Boebert said she would like to see the House impeach President Biden by the end of the year.
“If there’s ever any hesitation about the articles not coming to the table, we’ll make sure that happens,” Boebert said, noting that she would call another privileged resolution.
US Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Colorado, on a broadcast during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., on Thursday, March 2, 2023. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“We have to be ready to vote for any number of great ideas the House Republican Conference comes up with,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar, D-Calif. “They try to outsmart each other and outdo each other.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., plans to impeach Mr. Biden, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Washington, DC, U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves. But on Wednesday afternoon. Greene and Boebert engaged in an animated conversation on the second floor of the house. Greene accused Boebert of stealing her impeachment idea. It was reported that Greene called Boebert “a little b*tch”.
“They had a discussion,” McCarthy said, trying to play down the rhubarb between Greene and Boebert.
Yours truly pressured McCarthy if the confrontation really was a “discussion.”
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“I think it’s healthy for people to have discussions,” McCarthy replied.
When asked for her side of the story, Boebert simply walked away from a group of reporters gathered on the steps of the Capitol.
“Thank you all very much. Have a nice day,” said Boebert.
Chad Pergram is currently senior congressional correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in September 2007 and is based in Washington, DC