The White House is calling the impeachment effort a “political ploy” amid Republican struggles over closure

WASHINGTON (AP) — As House Republicans advance their efforts to impeach President Joe Biden, the White House is arguing they are using the investigation as a ploy to evade responsibility for a possible government shutdown.

The House Oversight Committee announced Tuesday that it will hold its first impeachment hearing on Sept. 28, days before the government is scheduled to shut down if Congress does not pass a funding bill. Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., also said his committee plans to subpoena personal and business banking records dating back to Biden’s time as vice president and belonging to his son Hunter and brother James, as well as statements from people who have identified Biden for themselves claim family forged corrupt foreign deals.

White House officials say the president’s strategy for now is to let Republicans decide how to proceed. But until that happens, officials said, the White House doesn’t matter.

The strategy aims to ensure that Americans hold Republicans embroiled in impeachment proceedings responsible for the potential consequences.

To that end, officials have argued that the president reached a budget agreement with Republicans earlier this year that laid out a future spending path. Republican lawmakers are now moving away from this Said.

In response to Tuesday’s announcement of the hearing, the White House criticized Republicans, accusing them of “staging a political ploy” to distract from efforts to cut spending.

The timing of the hearing “reveals their true priorities” with funding cuts that would furlough workers and jeopardize military pay, White House oversight and investigations spokesman Ian Sams said of Republicans.

“The extreme Republicans in the House of Representatives are already announcing their plans to distract from their own chaotic inability to govern and the impact it is having on the country,” Sams said in a statement. “Holding a political hearing in the final days before the government shutdown reveals their true priorities: They place unfounded personal attacks on President Biden as more important than preventing a government shutdown and the pain it would inflict on American families.”

Sams continued: “Their closure would harm our economy and national security, furloughing thousands of federal workers and jeopardizing everything from troop pay to disaster relief to fentanyl control efforts.” They are clearly hoping that their baseless and evidence-free impeachment maneuvers may attempt to divert attention from the consequences of her extreme agenda, including her current funding proposal to eliminate tens of thousands of preschool seats nationwide and eliminate thousands of law enforcement jobs.”

Sams said Biden will “continue to focus on the issues that matter to the American people, including preventing the devastating and damaging cuts proposed by House Republicans that are pushing us toward a government shutdown.”

Republicans’ impeachment efforts have failed to appease stubborn budget hawks who have said they will not support a short-term deal to end a shutdown. On Tuesday, a planned procedural vote to advance a stopgap deal between two Republican factions was abruptly aborted, drawing new attention to the party’s fractures.

The announcement of the impeachment hearing appears to have rung alarm bells among Republicans.

A source familiar with the matter said some staffers were confused that the committee was calling it an impeachment inquiry hearing and that it would be more accurately an oversight hearing on Hunter Biden, the first such hearing since the probe began.

“Oversight will be conducting an oversight hearing on Hunter Biden, and this is the first time we have had such a hearing since the investigation began,” the source said in an effort to distinguish the hearing from formal impeachment efforts.

The push to impeach Biden follows months of Republican Party-led investigations into members of the president’s family, including Hunter, who allegedly used his father’s influence to conduct business abroad.

Republicans have said they will use the investigation to find evidence of a “culture of corruption” surrounding the president that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy alleged. The White House has rejected the allegations.

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