House Republicans are not only facing resistance from within their own ranks to impeach President Joe Biden, they’re also getting a cool reception from another key constituency: Senate Republicans.
The concerns raised from lawmakers across the Capitol – who would be the jury in an impeachment trial if it came to that – adds another layer of GOP opposition, and further exposes that Republicans are not unified in their pursuit of impeaching Biden.
Republicans in the Senate are nervous that the push to impeach could backfire politically and give Biden a boost – all the while distracting from their efforts to paint the president as out of touch on the economy. Moreover, a number of Senate Republicans liken the Biden impeachment efforts to the two impeachments of then-President Donald Trump that they sharply criticized, even though the situations are markedly different.
And some are deeply skeptical that House Republicans have gathered enough evidence to launch impeachment proceedings over Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings – much less charge the president with committing high crimes or misdemeanors over them.
“We got so many things we need to be focusing on,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, said when asked about impeaching Biden. “I don’t see the glaring evidence that says we need to move forward, I didn’t see it in the Trump case and voted against it. I don’t see it in this case.”
Indeed, even though many senators said they encouraged their Republican colleagues in the House to keep investigating the Biden family, they emphasized that time is running out and that the evidence against the president still has not met the threshold needed to move forward.
“I’m not for going through another damn trial to be honest with you,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville, an Alabama Republican, told CNN.
Pointing out that an election year is approaching Tuberville added, “I don’t think they got enough time to do it.”
He warned Republicans in the House, “You better have an ironclad case. When you go after a former president or a president, have all of your ducks in a row. Make sure you got what you need to have. Don’t be guessing. Don’t just be throwing mud.”
GOP Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota also did not want to see House Republicans move too quickly.
“They have every right to do it, and they have all of the evidence they would need to certainly start with an inquiry,” Cramer said. “What I don’t want to see them do is rush to an impeachment judgment prior to the full process.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, a conservative Florida Republican, warned House Republicans about the dangers of pursuing impeachment.
While Rubio conceded that an impeachment inquiry can be useful to get information that the Biden administration has refused to turn over, he added, “I still think it’s a dangerous tool.”
Rubio told CNN: “These are extraordinary measures and deeply damage the country. So, that’s why we have term limits, that’s why we have vice presidents and that’s why we have elections. But they’re an extraordinary measure, they should not be routine.”
Republican leadership in the Senate have also been trying to distance themselves from the House GOP effort. The House returns to session this week after a six-week summer recess, with many members clamoring to move forward with an impeachment inquiry against the president — and Speaker Kevin McCarthy signaling he’s prepared to open up a formal inquiry. The issue is just the latest divide between House and Senate Republicans, who are deeply split over spending and their posture toward Ukraine.
It’s not uncommon for senators – who represent entire states as opposed to some of the gerrymandered districts in the House – to take different approaches to issues than their House counterparts. But the split on impeachment could undermine the lower chamber’s effort to proceed, especially as they work to convince holdouts to get on on board.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters in July that another impeachment proceeding is “not good for the country,” when asked about House Republicans inching towards an impeachment inquiry into Biden.
“I said two years ago, when we had not one but two impeachments, that once we go down this path, it incentives the other side to do the same thing,” McConnell said.
“Impeachment ought to be rare, rather than common,” he said. “And so I’m not surprised that having been treated the way they were, House Republicans last Congress, begin to open up the possibility of doing it again. And I think this is not good for the country, to have repeated impeachment problems.”
Sen. John Cornyn, the Texas Republican and member of GOP leadership, refused to say if he thought it was a good idea for the House to launch an impeachment inquiry.
“I don’t think that Speaker McCarthy’s position,” Cornyn said when asked about his personal view about a potential impeachment inquiry. “So, I assume it’s not going to happen unless he’s on board.”
Asked again, Cornyn sidestepped.
“I don’t think the House particularly cares what members of the Senate think,” he told CNN. “If they actually do it, then our responsibility kicks in. But I’m not going to speculate about what they ultimately will do. I know there are some differences of opinion.”
Asked if he believed it were politically risky to pursue impeachment, Cornyn turned to other reporters and said: “Anybody else?”