The House Republicans’ majority will be smaller than expected, but they’re eager to use their new oversight powers and pass a slew of bills to contrast with Democrats and give the Biden administration indigestion.
In this era of polarization and partisanship, it’s perhaps fitting that the Republican conference will be led by Reps. Kevin McCarthy of California and Steve Scalise of Louisiana, two veteran lawmakers known more for their political savvy than their policy knowledge.
Although House Republicans will still face a Democratic White House and Senate that will work to stymie their legislative goals, McCarthy, who is working feverishly to cement his ascension to speaker despite growing discontent in his ranks, has already stated that the party intends to launch investigations into the Biden administration and at least one of the president’s family members.
McCarthy and other leaders, on the other hand, will have their hands full as they try to keep their razor-thin majority united while also containing conservative bomb throwers who want to shut down the government and impeach President Joe Biden and his top allies.
From the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic and allegations of politicization at the Justice Department to America’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, investigations will dominate the new Congress. But none will attract as much attention as the GOP’s planned investigation into the business dealings of the president’s son Hunter two years before a potential Biden re-election bid.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the incoming Oversight Committee chairman, has stated that an investigation into Hunter Biden and other Biden family members and associates will be a top priority as Republicans seek to determine whether the family’s business activities “compromise US national security and President Biden’s ability to lead impartially.”
Republicans claim Hunter Biden has used his father’s successful political career to enrich himself: he joined the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company in 2019, and an investment firm he co-founded assisted a Chinese firm in purchasing a Congolese cobalt mine from a US firm in 2016.
Comer and other House Republicans made it clear at a press conference on Thursday that their investigation is focused on the current president.
Comer and Senate Republicans, including Kentucky’s Rand Paul, have also promised to look into Dr. Anthony Fauci, the retiring director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has become the face of the government’s response to Covid-19 — and a target of the right. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a Trump supporter and former leader of the far-right Freedom Caucus, is poised to chair the powerful Judiciary Committee and will be eager to summon Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray to Capitol Hill.
Jordan previewed some of his potential investigations for next year in a letter to Garland this month, urging the Justice Department to preserve records related to its investigation of the conservative group Project Veritas and how it obtained a copy of the president’s daughter Ashley Biden’s diary, the shutdown of the Justice Department’s Trump-era program targeting Chinese spying, and the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in August.
While the House Jan. 6 committee, formed in the aftermath of the Capitol attack by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will disband at the end of this Congress, Republicans have their own ideas for select House committees in the coming year. McCarthy has promised to form a special committee to investigate China.
However, those on his right flank are unlikely to be satisfied. A growing number of Republicans are calling for the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, citing his handling of the border surge. According to Customs and Border Protection data, there were a record 2.76 million undocumented immigrant crossings in fiscal year 2022, 1 million more than the previous year. Mayorkas has spoken out in support of the administration’s border policies.
In an email, DHS spokesman Luis Miranda responded to GOP calls to impeach Mayorkas, saying, “Many of those criticisms are coming from Members of Congress who voted against the funding DHS needs to do its job, and who oppose the kind of comprehensive reform needed to create lawful pathways and update our immigration system.”