- Republicans have big plans to thwart Joe Biden if they reclaim the US House.
- Biden foes like Reps. Jim Jordan and Marjorie Taylor Greene would get more powerful.
- The GOP can’t wait to grill Cabinet secretaries and investigate Hunter Biden.
Republicans can’t wait to make Joe Biden’s life miserable if they take back control of the US House in the upcoming midterm elections.
Odds are high that the GOP will wrest control of the House from Democrats in 2022. They’ve got a decent shot of winning back the Senate, too. And House Republicans are feeling so confident that they’re already drafting their playbook for taking on the Biden administration once they’ve got more power on Capitol Hill.
Insider asked some of the very Republicans poised to take charge what they’d do if American voters decide to put them back in the majority in Congress. Their plans: theatrical oversight hearings, investigations into Hunter Biden’s art sales, and maybe even one or more Biden impeachments.
“No government agency will want to receive a letter from us,” said Rep. James Comer, a Kentucky Republican who is now the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee and is in position to become its next chairman if the GOP takes the majority.
Republicans are making the case that handing them majorities in the House and Senate would allow them to provide a check against the Biden administration. They argue that Democratic leadership in both chambers of Congress has failed to hold the administration accountable so far.
Democrats made the same pitch in the midterm elections during President Donald Trump’s administration, and their House takeover in 2019 dramatically shifted the power dynamic in Washington and paved the way for Trump’s two impeachments.
“Everyone’s frustrated with the Biden administration,” Comer told Insider in a recent interview on Capitol Hill. “What they see in Congress now is absolutely no oversight to the Biden administration. Like who was held accountable for Afghanistan? Who’s held accountable for the lack of border security? No one,” he added. “Someone needs to hold them accountable and provide oversight, and we’re going to do that.”
Clear your calendars, Cabinet secretaries
Comer expects a GOP-led Oversight Committee to be ground zero for GOP spats with the Biden administration, and that means the president’s Cabinet secretaries should expect regular grillings on Capitol Hill. “We’ve got problems with just about every one of them with respect to oversight,” Comer said.
Another top target for GOP investigations: Hunter Biden.
The president’s son is a favorite target for Republicans who want to investigate Hunter Biden’s international business dealings as well as his recent art sales. Comer has questioned whether would-be art buyers might try to seek improper influence over the White House by purchasing Hunter Biden’s work. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in October that the White House wouldn’t know who was buying the art.
“Hunter Biden is at the top of the list,” Comer told Insider recently. “All I want to know is who bought that original art. And that’s not being nosy, that’s based upon a pattern of bad behavior for Hunter Biden.”
The Biden White House would undoubtedly shift into a defensive posture if it’s dealing with an antagonistic GOP majority from either chamber of Congress that suddenly has the power to issue subpoenas. The Trump and Obama administrations both made personnel changes, altered their legislative agendas, and braced for regular oversight hearings when the House switched parties after those administrations’ first two years in office.
The White House did not respond to Insider’s request for comment for this story.
Biden impeachment prospects
Republicans also have big plans to overhaul the House Judiciary Committee, which counts some of the Biden administration’s most vocal critics as its members. That committee is also typically where impeachment investigations and hearings take place.
Rep. Jim Jordan — an Ohio Republican who’s a leader of the House’s most conservative GOP faction and is one of Trump’s staunchest defenders on Capitol Hill — stands to become the chairman of the powerful panel if his party takes the House.
“Lord willing, I think we’re going to take back the majority and I want to be the chair of the Judiciary Committee,” Jordan told Insider in a November interview.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, could have a tough time mustering enough votes to become the next House speaker if the GOP clinches the chamber. Jordan challenged McCarthy for the minority leader slot in 2018, but the Ohio Republican said there’s “zero” chance that he’ll be the next House speaker and that he’s focused on becoming Judiciary chairman.
Some House Republicans are already trying to impeach Biden, but the effort is entirely symbolic with Democrats in the majority. Several Republicans filed impeachment articles in September, for example, criticizing Biden’s withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, his immigration policies, and his administration’s eviction moratorium. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia filed articles of impeachment against Biden the day after he was sworn in, calling him “unfit” for the presidency.
Impeachment talk could gain traction if Republicans are in the majority, but the GOP might risk blowback if they pursue a move that the public perceives as overtly political. And even if Biden were impeached in the House, he’s unlikely to be ousted by a Senate where two-thirds of the chamber would need to support his removal — something that’s never before happened in US history.
Asked whether Republicans would pursue impeachment against Biden, Jordan said, “I don’t know. What I do know is that he’s had the worst presidency in history. It’s been a complete disaster.”
Chairman Matt Gaetz?
Biden won’t just be dealing with committee leaders who have power. Some of the far-right GOP gadflies who are often treated as Hill sideshows would be emboldened to make problems for the Democratic administration.
For starters, Jordan wants to elevate Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican who is another staunch Trump defender and who is the subject of a federal sex-trafficking investigation. Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing.
In a recent interview on Gaetz’s podcast, Jordan said he wants to see Gaetz chairing a Judiciary subcommittee, “whichever one he wants.”
McCarthy has also vowed to put flame throwing Republican Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona and Greene of Georgia back on committees if the GOP takes the majority.
The current Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, said he thinks Democrats will hold onto the House in the midterms. But as for a potential Jordan chairmanship, Nadler said, “Jordan frightens me. He’s off the wall.” Gaetz, Nadler told Insider, “is a little more sensible.”
Rep. Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat who also serves on the Judiciary Committee, predicted “chaos” if Republicans retake the House. Emboldening conservatives in the House like Jordan, Gaetz, and Greene is a “dreadful” prospect, Cohen told Insider.
“My father was superintendent of a mental institution,” he said, “so I think about things like this.”