Even in the event of a federal government shutdown, Utah Sen. Mike Lee says there’s “no reason” for Congress to stop the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.
Congress must fund the government by Sept. 30, or many government employees will be furloughed. Federal public safety employees and military members may have to work without pay.
Earlier this month, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy authorized three House committees to open an impeachment investigation into the business dealings of Biden’s family members, primarily the president’s son Hunter. House Republicans have scheduled the first impeachment inquiry hearing for Thursday, just days before the government funding deadline.
During a Sunday morning appearance on Fox News, Lee told host Maria Bartoromo that he does not believe a shutdown would impact the investigation into Biden.
“I am aware of no reason, Maria, why that inquiry could not continue even if the government were to shut down temporarily,” Lee said. “There’s nothing suggesting to me that Congress can’t do its work if that happens.”
On Monday, Lee’s office reiterated that Congress would not be forced to pause the Biden probes in the event of a government shutdown.
“Congress is not required to suspend such investigations in the event of a government shutdown and can deem these activities essential,” Lee spokesperson Billy Gribbin said in an email.
Lee told Bartiromo he would like to avoid a shutdown, suggesting that Congress temporarily fund the government for a few weeks until a funding deal can be hammered out.
“The House of Representatives has got things moving to the point where we may have as many as four appropriations bills. That’s going to take some time. They might not be able to get it done in the next week. I think the best way to move it forward right now would be to extend the government spending for a few weeks to keep it open,” Lee said.
The Utah senator hasn’t always been so hesitant to shut down the government, and in the past, has been a vocal proponent of using a shutdown to try and force spending cuts or to stop government policies he disagrees with.
Shortly after taking office in 2013, Lee was at the forefront of a 17-day shutdown to defund the Affordable Care Act. That shutdown cost the state millions of dollars in lost tourist revenue. Then, Lee initially said he would not forego his pay during the shutdown, but later said he would donate a portion of his pay to charity.
During the two-day government shutdown in January 2018, Lee voted against a spending bill to reopen the government because it contained a long-term extension of a government surveillance program he worried was spying on Americans. Lee had previously threatened a government shutdown to block that program.
Lee was one of two GOP senators to vote against a funding bill to reopen the government after a 35-day shutdown from Dec. 22, 2018, to Jan. 25, 2019 — the longest in U.S. history.