What if the Republicans take Congress? Probes, maybe an indictment
The midterm elections will determine control of Congress and with it the fate of President Joe Biden’s agenda.
Democrats are unlikely to retain control of the House and Senate, project of analysts and experts. With Republicans well positioned to take control of at least the House, Biden is likely to face some hurdles as he completes the final two years of his term.
The extent to which Republicans can block Biden’s agenda depends on their margins of victory after Tuesday’s election. Here’s what could happen if the GOP regains at least some control over Washington.
A GOP house would open new investigations — lots of them
When Democrats took control of the House in the 2018 Blue Wave, they launched a series of investigations into President Donald Trump’s administration and his trade dealings, including probes of his tax returns and later the role he starred in the attack on the Capitol on January 6.
Republicans are eager to do the same. If they take over the House next year, expect plenty of investigations into Biden’s agendas and the financial dealings of his son Hunter Biden.
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Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, is expected to chair the House’s most powerful investigative committee. Comer has pledged to aggressively investigate Hunter Biden’s financial dealings and compliance with tax laws. Republicans have questioned whether Hunter Biden has compromised the presidency and national security through his business dealings in China and Ukraine.
“The reason we’re investigating Hunter Biden is because we believe he poses a national security threat. But we’re also concerned that Hunter’s shady business dealings may have compromised Joe Biden,” Comer told Fox News in October. .
A majority of the GOP could also open investigations into the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Department of Justice.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, in a position to become Speaker of the House if the GOP takes the chamber, has promised to immediately open an investigation into the FBI search of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
“When Republicans take over the House, we will be conducting immediate oversight of this department, following the facts, and leaving no stone unturned,” he added. said McCarthy.
A bigger platform for ultraconservatives
If McCarthy becomes president, he may have to maintain a potentially unwieldy majority, some of which are demanding aggressive accounting from the Biden administration. Depending on how thin the GOP majority is, the House Freedom Caucus, which includes some of the most conservative lawmakers in the House, could expand its influence.
The caucus, made up of about 30 members, has so far remained neutral in the leadership elections while being aware of the power it wields.
“If you have 30 votes in a narrow majority, you can be influential.” Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., a and member of the Freedom Caucus, said Axios.
The Freedom Caucus has been involved in leadership changes before. John Boehner, then Speaker of the House was forced to resign in 2015 in part because of caucus opposition to him.
While McCarthy is unlikely to face any real opposition in a presidential bid — in part because no rivals have emerged — he would have to walk a tightrope between shifting legislation and tempering far-right Republicans. .
Impeachment threat looms
Some House Republicans have been clamoring to impeach Biden if the GOP takes control of the House. One of the most vocal members of the Republican Conference, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., has repeatedly introduced articles of impeachment against Biden.
However, McCarthy tried to tone down the conversations surrounding the impeachment, telling reporters, “We’re not going to play politics with this.”
House Republicans are cautious with impeachment. Such a decision would attract media attention and could backfire if voters disagree. Several of them were in office in the 1990s, when Bill Clinton’s GOP impeachment led to the loss of some GOP congressional seats and boosted the president’s popularity.
Even if Biden were impeached, the Senate would hold a trial that would require a two-thirds majority to convict Biden, a nearly impossible task.
Another possible impeachment target would be two of Biden’s cabinet members: Attorney General Merrick Garland, for the Justice Department’s investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents; and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for the administration’s handling of the record influx of migrants at the southern border.
Aid to Ukraine could slow down
If the GOP takes the House, continued US aid to Ukraine as it fends off a Russian invasion is up in the air. McCarthy told Punchbowl News that a Republican House will not write a “blank check” to Ukraine, suggesting that Republicans would limit or stop funding for Ukraine.
Republicans are split on approving additional aid to Ukraine. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pushed the White House to expedite the shipment of military weapons. McCarthy and other Republicans have expressed skepticism about continued aid, citing the national debt as a reason to limit funding.
What legislation can pass?
If the GOP takes over the Senate, McConnell would resume his job as Senate Majority Leader, allowing him to set the agenda for the chamber.
McConnell, during his previous term as Majority Leader, was criticized by opponents as an obstructionist. The self-proclaimed Senate “reaper” has previously said he is “100%” focused on stopping Biden’s agenda.
Any Democratic legislation that comes to the Senate would have to go through McConnell, who has in the past left many Democratic House bills in legislative limbo.
If the GOP wins the House, expect a Republican majority to pass legislation with traditional conservative points: tax cuts and reduced government spending.
A House Republican program revealed in September titled “Commitment to America” outlined various legislative goals for a majority of the GOP that also include increased fossil fuel production. But with Biden still in the White House, the GOP should face his veto pen.
Biden’s influence on the justice system could decline
Biden has nominated and seen more confirmed federal judges than any other president at this point in his term since John F. Kennedy. But if the GOP takes over the Senate, its influence on the judiciary could end.
McConnell is well known for blocking President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Garland. When Garland was nominated, McConnell withheld a confirmation vote from the chamber for more than 11 months, allowing Garland’s nomination to lapse. In the end, Trump was able to fill Conservative Neil Gorsuch’s seat.
And if a Supreme Court vacancy were to become available, Democrats fear McConnell could hold off a Biden nominee indefinitely in hopes of a Republican taking the Oval Office in 2025 and appointing a conservative judge.