Eleven days ago, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pledged he would only launch an impeachment inquiry into President Biden with a vote on the House floor — “not through a declaration by one person.”
On Tuesday, McCarthy stood alone at a lectern and declared that three GOP-led committees would begin a formal impeachment inquiry at his sole direction.
Why it matters: For most observers, it’s a U-turn of epic proportions. For McCarthy, it’s an uncomfortable flip-flop that protects vulnerable Republicans from a difficult vote while allowing him to fight another day as speaker.
State of play: The August recess revealed that Republicans do not have the votes to authorize an impeachment inquiry, with a handful of GOP lawmakers expressing skepticism about the evidence against Biden uncovered so far.
Flashback: Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) decision to open an impeachment inquiry without a vote was at the center of House Republicans’ defense of former President Trump in 2019.
What they’re saying: Caught in the hallway by reporters, McCarthy blamed Pelosi for changing the precedent and said he warned her about the consequences at the time.
The bottom line: McCarthy has governed by the seat of his pants for much of his tenure. This latest chapter may be his boldest gamble yet.