“This logical next step will give our committees the full power to gather all the facts and answers for the American public,” McCarthy said in a brief public appearance.
The speaker claimed that Biden had lied to the American people about his knowledge of his family’s foreign business dealings.
The inquiry will be led by GOP Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, in coordination with Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep. Jason Smith, Mo., who chairs the Ways and Means Committee.
Ian Sams, spokesman for the White House counsel’s office, said House Republicans have been investigating Biden for nine months and have turned up no evidence of wrongdoing.
McCarthy apparently abandoned his previous vow that an impeachment inquiry would occur through a vote in the House. His decision to direct the committees to launch the inquiry without a vote suggests he did not have enough support in the House to move forward.
Senate Republicans are skeptical the House has uncovered enough evidence to justify an impeachment inquiry.
The Republican-led House Oversight Committee launched an investigation in January into allegations that Biden profited from his son Hunter’s business dealings while he was vice president.
Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee, called the GOP investigation “a complete and total bust” in a statement Monday.
“The voluminous evidence they have gathered, including thousands of pages of bank records and suspicious activity reports and hours of testimony from witnesses, overwhelmingly demonstrates no wrongdoing by President Biden and further debunks Republicans’ conspiracy theories,” Raskin said.
McCarthy is under pressure from right-wing members of his party to attack Biden more directly ahead of the 2024 presidential election, demands that are gaining new leverage this fall as Congress faces a looming deadline at the end of the month to avoid a government shutdown.
The House speaker needs to pass a temporary spending measure to avoid a shutdown, but far-right Republicans have demanded action on impeachment in exchange for their support to keep the government operating.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia explicitly said that she would not vote to fund the government unless the House opened an impeachment inquiry into Biden.
Greene has been advocating for an impeachment of Biden since the day he was sworn into office, and she filed formal articles of impeachment against him on his first full day as president in 2021.
Demands like Greene’s, which tie two unrelated events together, crystallize conflicting pressures that McCarthy is under as he tries to quell the restive conservatives in his caucus while also preventing a shutdown.
But there is also pushback against McCarthy’s apparent capitulation from within his Republican ranks.
Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, a prominent Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee and the Freedom Caucus, expressed strong reservations as recently as Sunday about the prospects of a vote to impeach Biden in the House.
“The time for impeachment is the time when there’s evidence linking President Biden — if there’s evidence linking President Biden to a high crime or misdemeanor. That doesn’t exist right now,” Buck said on MSNBC’s “Inside with Jen Psaki.”