Speaker Kevin McCarthy urged House Republicans to vote against the resolution brought forward by GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado forcing a vote to impeach President Joe Biden this week, arguing now is not the right time, multiple sources in the closed door meeting told CNN.
House Republicans are divided over Boebert’s resolution, with a number of members emerging from the meeting expressing frustration with the conservative congresswoman’s push to force a vote on the politically contentious issue.
McCarthy said Wednesday evening that the House will refer Boebert’s impeachment resolution to the Homeland Security Committee, confirming CNN’s earlier reporting on that approach. There will be a rule vote on the floor to make the referral to committee, allowing Republicans to diffuse the politically thorny issue for now, though internal party tension over the issue was on display for much of Wednesday.
Asked about the strategy to send the resolution to committee, McCarthy told CNN: “I think that’s best for everybody.”
At Wednesday’s closed door meeting, McCarthy argued that Republicans should let committee investigations play out and warning that jumping to impeachment now could threaten their slim majority, the sources said. The speaker noted that House Republicans have taken back the House five times in the last 100 years, and two of those times lost the majority the next cycle.
“What majority do we want to be,” McCarthy asked his conference, according to a source in the room “Give it right back in two years or hold it for a decade and make real change?”
McCarthy said he asked Boebert to speak during the closed door conference meeting and she declined, a source familiar told CNN. Boebert did not attend the Wednesday meeting, the source said. CNN has reached out to Boebert’s office for comment.
McCarthy told reporters on Wednesday he does not support the resolution.
“I think to prematurely bring something up like that, to have no background in it, it undercuts what we’re doing” at the committee level, he said.
A number of House Republicans have filed articles of impeachment against Biden since the party took the House majority, but Boebert made a specific procedural move on Tuesday that would force the chamber to vote on the impeachment of Biden this week.
It’s not clear when the vote will happen, if at all. Boebert told CNN she would not force the full House to vote Wednesday night, and it’s still possible a vote to kill the impeachment resolution could happen later this week.
McCarthy also raised that it would look hypocritical for the House GOP conference to censure Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California for abusing his position in Congress and then use that same reasoning to justify impeaching Biden the next day, according to sources.
After the closed door conference meeting, McCarthy ignored questions from CNN and instead slammed the network.
A number of other House Republicans raised concerns about their right wing colleagues using procedural methods to bypass the committee process and force votes on the floor, particularly after they had harped on Congress returning to regular order as part of their demands in exchange for electing McCarthy as speaker earlier this year, the sources added.
“I think that things like impeachment are one of the most awesome powers of the Congress,” one lawmaker told CNN. “It’s not something you should flippantly exercise in two days.”
Another lawmaker who is voting against the Boebert resolution told CNN, “It should come through committee and treated with the seriousness it deserves.”
Separately, Rep. Don Bacon told CNN’s Manu Raju, “It’s not right.”
“I believe in team sports, you should work together and this is individual and I believe it is undermining the team,” Bacon said.
He added, “I don’t worry just about the team - it’s about Congress, it’s about our country. Impeachment shouldn’t be something that is frivolous and treated in that way. And it is, if you do a privileged motion, and impeachments are so serious. You have to go through committee.”
But, several hardline Republicans plan to vote for the impeachment resolution, even though she has faced some criticism from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who called her a “copycat” for offering an impeachment resolution similar to the one she proposed.
Greene called Boebert “a little bitch” Wednesday afternoon on the House floor, according to a spokesperson for Greene.
The Daily Beast first reported that Greene told Boebert on the House floor, “I’ve donated to you, I’ve defended you. But you’ve been nothing but a little bitch to me… And you copied my articles of impeachment after I asked you to cosponsor them.” Greene’s spokesperson confirmed the quote is accurate.
Asked about Greene’s accusation of copying her and the derogatory comment, Boebert told CNN that she’s “not in middle school.”
Still, Greene said that she plans to support the Boebert resolution, and that she is also taking steps to force a vote on five other impeachment resolutions. These resolutions target Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and US Attorney Matthew Graves.
“What we need to do is we really need to have this argument here in our conference and get to the same place that our base is, where our Republican voters are and they’ve had enough. They’ve absolutely had enough.”
She also said that Boebert “copied” her impeachment resolution against Biden.
“She basically copied my articles and then introduced them and then changed them to a privileged resolution,” Greene said. “So of course, I support them because they’re identical to mine.”
Rep. Tim Burchett said he plans to support Boebert’s resolution. “At this point I am,” he said. “I’m just gonna do what I think’s right. And back home the people think, the majority of people, think that this President is corrupt and I agree with that.”
Rep. Ralph Norman would not say if he would support Boebert’s effort, but noted that it might not be to their political advantage to try and remove Biden at this point. “We’re gonna look at it and see, a lot of people have questions. We’re just in a meeting and he is the best candidate that can go down to defeat. He’s got a dismal record. He does, he’s tearing the country up. So, we will see.”
This story has been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Alayna Treene contributed to this report.