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Bentz supports Biden impeachment inquiry, Chavez-DeRemer distances herself

U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Oregon, supports an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, while Democrats criticized the move and Republican Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer distanced herself.
Jane Norman
States Newsroom
U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Oregon, supports an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, while Democrats criticized the move and Republican Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer distanced herself.

One of Oregon’s two Republican congressional representatives supports a just-announced impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. The other is keeping her distance.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California, announced Tuesday that he directed three House committees to open a formal impeachment inquiry into Biden and allegations that he benefited from his son’s business dealings. Oregon Republican Rep. Cliff Bentz serves on the Judiciary Committee, one of the three committees involved in the inquiry.

Bentz told the Capital Chronicle he doesn’t yet know much about the inquiry and what his role will be, but that he expects it could take several months based on his experience with the first impeachment inquiry into former President Donald Trump. He expects to learn more after meetings with other Republicans over the next few days, and he said he expects the investigation to happen in the background while Congress focuses on passing a short-term spending bill. It has until Sept. 30 to approve a continuing resolution or the government shuts down.

“I trust Kevin McCarthy, and if he’s saying that this is the next step, then I’m gonna be with him on it,” Bentz said. “I had already heard enough that as a lawyer, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s really odd,’ about some of the things that the Biden family had been doing.”

Bentz said he didn’t know of any link between “odd” behavior from members of the Biden family and Biden himself as president, but said he hasn’t been briefed since July.

Meanwhile, Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer, R-Oregon, described the impeachment inquiry as a “momentous step.” A spokesman for Chavez-DeRemer didn’t answer specific questions about whether Chavez-DeRemer supports the inquiry and whether there should be any limits on the inquiry’s scope, instead sharing a four-sentence statement.

“An impeachment inquiry is just what it sounds like — a search for facts and the truth regarding serious allegations against President Biden,” the statement said. “This is a momentous step, and it should be treated solemnly and without political maneuvering or grandstanding. Like all Americans, I want the truth to come out through a fair, dignified, and just process. While this plays out, I remain focused on keeping the federal government open and functioning, so that there are no disruptions to services for Oregonians.”

Bentz represents a safely Republican district in eastern Oregon, while Chavez-DeRemer’s 5th Congressional District is more competitive. She won by 2 percentage points last year and Biden won the district in 2020. The Congressional Integrity Project, a Democratic group, on Tuesday announced a digital ad campaign targeting Chavez-DeRemer and 17 other Republicans in districts Biden won over the impeachment inquiry.

Democratic members of Oregon’s congressional delegation criticized McCarthy’s decision, with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici noting on social media that an impasse over spending risks a government shutdown at the end of the month. About three dozen Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus have demanded spending cuts beyond what Biden, McCarthy and Senate leaders have agreed on to keep the government running.

“The extremist House Republicans are putting the government at risk of a shutdown at the end of the month,” Bonamici said. “It’s absurd that Speaker McCarthy is using limited time and resources to open an impeachment inquiry into President Biden instead of engaging in meaningful funding negotiations.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer described the impeachment inquiry as a “a pathetic effort to change the subject on Capitol Hill.”

“The fact is that the Republicans can’t even agree with each other on things that really matter like funding our government,” Blumenauer continued. “The last time the Republicans tried this, it didn’t just fail but it was a disaster for them at the ballot box. We can only hope that this effort meets the same fate.”

Rep. Val Hoyle also described the inquiry as “pathetic” in a statement.

“It’s a pathetic political stunt to distract from the fact that Congressional Republicans may shut down the government at the end of the month,” she said. “I want to know what Kevin McCarthy is doing to ensure Social Security recipients will receive a check, veterans will have access to health care, and hundreds of thousands of federal employees won’t be furloughed.”

And Rep. Andrea Salinas described it as “partisan politics at its worst” in a social media post.

“This wasteful, baseless exercise is a distraction that will hamper our ability to work on the issues that really matter to working Oregonians,” Salinas added.

The Oregon Capital Chronicle is a professional, nonprofit news organization. We are an affiliate of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. The Capital Chronicle retains full editorial independence, meaning decisions about news and coverage are made by Oregonians for Oregonians.

Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. Julia is an award-winning journalist who reported on the tangled efforts to audit the 2020 presidential election results in Arizona.