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WASHINGTON – The House Republicans took a significant step on Wednesday by formally authorizing an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. The vote, which passed along party lines at 221-212, marked a crucial move toward potentially impeaching the president. Republicans have asserted that Biden benefited financially from his family’s foreign business dealings, although they have not publicly presented evidence supporting these claims.

The decision to greenlight the inquiry came after House Republicans accused the White House of obstructing their investigation. By authorizing the inquiry, Republicans aim to strengthen their legal position if they need to go to court to enforce information requests. White House spokesperson Ian Sams dismissed the impeachment inquiry as a “sham investigation,” emphasizing the administration’s full cooperation and evidence contradicting the allegations.

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House Speaker Mike Johnson and GOP investigators leading the inquiry emphasized that it is an investigation, not a predetermined move toward drafting articles of impeachment. Johnson stated during a press conference that their constitutional responsibility requires taking the next step and following the truth, without prejudging the outcome.

Democrats, however, questioned the purpose of the investigation, pointing out the absence of evidence directly linking Biden to his family’s business dealings. Representative Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee involved in the investigation, questioned the alleged crime Biden was accused of, asserting that there was no substantiated basis for the claims.

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The vote to authorize the Republican inquiry coincided with the scheduled Capitol Hill deposition of President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. However, Hunter Biden defied the subpoena, opting for a press conference where he defended his father and accused GOP investigators of weaponizing his substance use disorder to attack the president. Hunter demanded to testify in a public hearing, while GOP investigators insisted on a closed-door deposition, leading to potential contempt proceedings.

Initially, moderate and vulnerable House Republicans from districts won by Biden in the 2020 election hesitated to support an impeachment inquiry. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy initiated the probe in September without a formal vote, citing concerns about uncooperativeness from the White House. Yet, even those initially opposed to the inquiry now argue that the White House’s lack of cooperation justifies the need for further investigation.

Voters across the country expressed mixed reactions to the impeachment push. Some, like Democratic voter Jackson Reffitt, supported the scrutiny of politicians in power, while others, like restoration business owner Scott Bailey, were frustrated with the delay in authorizing the inquiry. Middle school teacher Erik Peterson labeled the investigation as “political theater,” viewing it as retaliatory for previous inquiries during the Trump administration.

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In a dramatic day on Capitol Hill, Hunter Biden’s refusal to comply with the subpoena added another layer of tension. He accused Republicans of attacking his character and defended his father, insisting there was no evidence supporting allegations of Biden’s involvement in his business. The GOP’s decision to move for contempt proceedings against Hunter Biden further intensified the political drama.

President Biden criticized Republicans for prioritizing the impeachment inquiry over pressing issues, accusing them of engaging in a baseless political stunt. Democrats echoed this sentiment, characterizing the investigation as a political hit job orchestrated by former President Donald Trump.

The vote to formalize the impeachment inquiry into President Biden exposes divisions along party lines, with Republicans seeking legal authority for their investigation and Democrats dismissing it as a political ploy. As the inquiry progresses, the focus remains on the credibility of allegations and the potential impact on the political landscape.

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