Republicans have won control of the House of Representatives in the 2022 midterms, several news media reported on Wednesday.
Despite predictions of a “red wave,” the GOP’s win is a narrow one; some experts are expecting that Republicans’ lead over Democrats will likely be in the single digits when all House races are finally counted.
However, House Republicans will still be able to open a number of investigations through their control of legislative committees in the chamber, and they will be able to leverage their subpoena power in order to obtain documents and depositions from key figures.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) won an election within his caucus to lead the party in the House, which means he’ll likely become the next House Speaker. Still, more than two dozen GOP lawmakers voted against him, indicating that he may face challenges in reining in far right forces within his own party while trying to manage the House starting in January.
Perhaps as an attempt to placate those forces (or to win the approval of former President Donald Trump), McCarthy has made it clear that he plans to support inquiries into President Joe Biden’s White House, as well as into members of Biden’s family.
Such investigations will likely be based on conspiracy theories and other blatantly false allegations made by right-wing extremists. Inquiries into the origins of COVID-19, the purported politicization of the Justice Department, and the management of investigations into Trump’s actions (including his improper handling of government documents and his actions surrounding the Capitol attack) are all fair game for the GOP to investigate. Republicans will also likely open an inquiry into the business dealings of Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
Far right elements in the GOP may even seek to impeach Biden over the next two-year session, possibly out of a desire for revenge after Democrats impeached Trump twice while he was in office. And while McCarthy recently said that he doesn’t believe any of Biden’s actions warrant impeachment, the Speaker’s narrow majority in the House may compel him to entertain the possibility of impeaching Biden, whether or not such a move is justified.
Indeed, the White House has reportedly been prepping for months over the investigations they will likely face in the near future. The administration is also planning to hire additional staff and lawyers to ready themselves for the GOP’s onslaught of probes, subpoenas and other actions.
White House officials are adamant that these inquiries will backfire on Republicans, and that they will be viewed by Americans as an overreach of the GOP’s legislative powers. The administration also plans to counter claims from the GOP while pushing forward the president’s agenda, even though it faces new challenges to do so within a divided government.
“President Biden is not going to let these political attacks distract him from focusing on Americans’ priorities, and we hope congressional Republicans will join us in tackling them instead of wasting time and resources on political revenge,” Ian Sams, spokesperson for the White House counsel’s office, said in a statement to CNN.