Rep.-elect Mike Lawler (RN.Y.). Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Republicans who have defended or flipped seats in the districts President Biden won in 2020 have a message for their party leaders: Focus on the economy, not impeachment.
Why is it important: Some rank-and-file Republicans and executive aides worry that overly politicized investigations — including impeachment — could backfire on a party seeking to rebuild credibility among independents after a disappointing midterm performance.
What we are looking at: Fewer than 3 in 10 Americans said Congress should focus on a presidential impeachment inquiry or Hunter Biden’s finances, according to a Morning Consult poll released Wednesday.
- That didn’t stop leading House Republicans from holding a press conference Thursday — the morning after officially taking a majority — promising to investigate the Biden family’s business dealings.
- “It’s a big deal, we think — if we can keep this about Hunter Biden, that would be great,” House Oversight Committee member James Comer (R-Ky) told reporters as was looking to master a Q&A.
What they say : Representative-elect Zach Nunn of Iowa told Axios he wants to focus on the budget and investigate the pullout from Afghanistan, adding that any further action should be reserved for “those very rare situations where laws may be violated”.
- “The top priority is to fight inflation and the cost of living. … What I don’t want to see is what we’ve seen in the Trump administration where the Democrats have come after the president and the administration over and over again,” said Representative-elect Mike Lawler of New York on CNN.
- “I think for at least the first six months we should be working on making this country energy independent. We should be working on reducing crime in metropolitan areas like New York. And then we can start talking about ‘investigations,’ the rep said. -elect George Santos, also of New York, said on Fox News.
Even some Republicans from more solidly red districts expressed reluctance to make impeachment the focus of their new majority.
- “I don’t want to start there,” Rep. Dan Meuser (R-Pa.) told Axios when asked about the impeachment. “I don’t think our leaders want to start there.”
- “It’s not something I support at this point. … We really need to focus on the economic issues. Inflation is killing us,” said Rep. Nancy Mace (RS.C.), a member of the House Oversight Committee.
The plot: At least seven Republicans from Biden’s district — Rep. Young Kim (R-Calif.) as well as elected Reps. Mike Lawler, George Santos, Brandon Williams and Nick LaLota, all of New York, Jen Kiggans of Virginia and Juan Ciscomani of Arizona — attended Pelosi’s retirement speech today.
Between the lines: Top Republicans on committees tasked with investigating Afghanistan and Hunter Biden — two topics of impeachment resolutions previously introduced by right-wing Republicans — have moved away from the idea that their investigations are designed to lay the groundwork for an impeachment.
- “For me, [the motivation] is to get to the truth…mine is not a political vendetta,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Axios.
- “I’ve had members come up to me and talk to me about it,” Comer (R-Ky.) said of the impeachment. “It’s not something that’s on my radar. I’m investigating and once we’ve completed the investigation, we’ll turn it over to the appropriate people and move on to the next investigation.”
- “I don’t think that would have happened with an even bigger majority…there has to be ‘high felony’ and/or misdemeanor,” a senior House Republican official told Axios. “What did Joe do?”
What to watch: GOP-controlled committees will repeatedly call Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and others to testify.
- This helps bring issues like the southern border to the public’s attention, without risking going overboard and losing credibility with American voters.
- “We’ll give him a reserved parking spot,” House GOP Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said of Mayorkas.