Washington:The Republican-led US House of Representatives has voted to authorise impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, in a 221-212 vote along party lines.
“The impeachment power resides solely with the House of Representatives,” Xinhua news agency quoted Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, a hardliner within the Republican party, as saying to reporters after the vote late Wednesday night.
“If a majority of the House now says we’re in an official impeachment inquiry as part of our constitutional duty to do oversight, that carries weight. That’s going to help us get these witnesses in,” said the Ohio Republican, one of the leaders of the impeachment push.
Republicans hope that the impeachment inquiry vote would give them better legal standing to hold the President’s son Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress should he fail to show.
Hunter Biden, the first child of a sitting president to be criminally indicted, appeared at a news conference outside the Capitol on Wednesday morning, when he again offered to testify in a public hearing, after refusing to appear at a closed-door deposition Republicans demanded.
As of now, no substantiated evidence has surfaced to demonstrate that President Joe Biden, in his current or past official capacities, engaged in the misuse of his position or accepted illicit payments.
However, ethical concerns have been raised regarding the international business dealings of the Biden family.
In a statement, House Speaker Mike Johnson said the chamber “will not prejudge the investigation’s outcome” but “the evidentiary record is impossible to ignore”.
Less than a year ahead of the 2024 presidential election, the President will be fighting a Republican impeachment bid while his son Hunter Biden struggles to avoid prison in tax and gun-related cases.
But, even if the House ultimately opts to impeach Joe Biden, the Democrat-controlled Senate is all but certain to acquit him.
In a statement following the vote, President Biden said: “The American people need their leaders in Congress to take action on important priorities for the nation and world.
“Instead of doing their job on the urgent work that needs to be done, they are choosing to waste time on this baseless political stunt that even Republicans in Congress admit is not supported by facts.”
This year has seen President Biden’s popularity fall amid still elevated inflation and intensifying Israel-Palestine war, among other factors.
An NBC News poll last month found that Joe Biden’s popularity stood at its lowest in his presidency, with most voters viewing him in a “negative” light.
On the Republican side, the race has been dominated by former President Donald Trump, who is only bolstered among his voting base by the four criminal indictments he faces.
“It is the widespread disillusionment that any government operating under the current inept rules will accomplish nothing of use to the average citizen that I find most worrisome,” Greg Cusack, a former member of the Iowa House of Representatives and a longtime Democrat, told Xinhua.
“It is this sentiment that I think is behind the reported serious erosion of support for Biden among not only people of color but also of the young,” Cusack said.
Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy had launched the inquiry in September and said Republicans had unearthed a “culture of corruption” surrounding Mr Biden.
Republicans have held one hearing related to the inquiry, during which two expert witnesses called by party members said there was not yet enough evidence to impeach the President.