US House GOP debates internally re: Biden and the 25th amendment

With an important election right around the corner, it seems many in Congress’s opposition party are split on how to handle the question of Joe Biden and his fitness to continue in office:

House Democrats are in the middle of their biggest political crisis in years. Republican leaders have directed their members to sit on the sidelines and watch the food fight.

What does that mean in practice? Republicans are definitely feeling validated after years after not only raising questions about President Joe Biden’s mental acuity, but also having a searing spotlight on their own internal divisions. They’ve giddily watched as, this time, the press bombards Democrats with questions about their party’s future.

But, based on our conversations with half a dozen GOP lawmakers, including leadership, key chairs, centrists and members of the right flank, don’t expect that to translate into any real momentum for the long-stalled effort to impeach Biden.

When asked how the implosion of Democratic drama impacts GOP talk of impeachment, Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) pointed to a variety of other legislative priorities Republicans are focusing on instead, including legislation to require proof of citizenship in order to vote in federal elections or a resolution that aims to challenge the Biden administration’s Title IX regulation related to women’s sports.

“This is one of the many issues you’re gonna see in the election,” Scalise told us, adding that those bills took priority over impeachment.

Of course, House Republicans are a difficult conference to keep entirely on message. Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) has requested that White House physician Kevin O’Connor appear behind closed doors for a transcribed interview with committee counsel — a step some members of his panel had been clamoring for. And Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) introduced a largely symbolic resolution calling on Vice President Kamala Harris and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment.

Still, those efforts have gotten soft pushback from fellow Republicans. Some said the 25th Amendment issue is not their fight. Speaker Mike Johnson said he believed the 25th Amendment is “appropriate,” but added that “we know, and Chip knows, we all know that the House doesn’t have the authority to do that.”

Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said he hadn’t had any discussions yet about holding a hearing or markup on Roy’s resolution, adding “that’s a question for the Cabinet, that’s not a question for the Congress.”

And some argue why risk a lesser-known quantity running against former President Donald Trump when Biden appears at such a disadvantage.

“I want to burn the bridge to the graceful exit for Joe Biden,” said one House Republican, granted anonymity to speak candidly. “There’s no reason for Republicans to root for what’s behind door number two, when what’s behind door number one is a nursing home patient.”

Behind the scenes, every member of House GOP leadership is giving the same straightforward advice about how Republicans should handle Democrats’ ongoing internal drama, according to two sources in a closed-door meeting on Tuesday: “Stay out of their way.”

And it’s not just leadership. Even members of the conference’s right flank believe Republicans should take a similar line. Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), asked if he wanted the House GOP to use their majority to weigh in, instead pointed back at Democrats: “I think the media, DNC conspiracy of silence is finally shattered. Let’s see what they do about it.”[…]