Democrats and Republicans are aware that political paybacks are routine and expensive in the hallways of Capitol Hill and that the House of Representatives’ go ahead for an “inquiry” for the impeachment of US President Joe Biden is actually the first step of the long drawn out process.

From the two impeachments of Donald Trump, they also know that Biden could be impeached in the House of Representatives but acquitted in the Senate by virtue of the majorities required.

As Republicans go about looking for high crimes, misdemeanors and obstruction of justice, Biden has maintained it was a waste of time.

“The American people need their leaders in Congress to take action on important priorities for the nation and world. Instead of doing their job on the urgent work that needs to be done, they are choosing to waste time on this baseless political stunt that even Republicans in Congress admit is not supported by facts,” he said in a statement after the vote.

Biden knows all too well that the politics of the impeachment process will eventually spill into other areas like emergency war funding for Ukraine and Israel and the now fragile consensus to raise the debt ceiling to keep the government functioning.

Spotlight of Biden Jr.

Despite impeachment being high on former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s agenda, Republican members of various committees had not been able to come up with anything substantive other than to claim that the Biden family and associates had gained from foreign sources including from Ukraine and China.In the spotlight was Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who often took the spotlight for alleged influence peddling.

The timing of the House vote coincided with Hunter Biden’s refusal to appear for a closed door hearing in the House. Biden Jr. maintained that he was more than willing to testify at an open hearing, his worry being that the Republicans would be in a position to leak material in a selective fashion. But for Biden and key Democrats in the House, this was just a fishing expedition by the GOP.

Biden’s woes

Even if some Republicans are being careful in describing the House vote as only “evidence gathering” and not the start of a full fledged impeachment process, the writing is nevertheless on the wall for Biden. The 81-year-old President is weighed down even within his party with minorities, independents and young voters moving away; and a dipping approval rating.

On Gaza the Biden administration is unwilling or unable to pressure its closest ally, Israel. This has impacted the Biden re-election game plan for Arab American voters, especially in critical battleground states like Michigan.

Then there is the Trump factor that continues to haunt the Biden White House. Trump is goading his right wing allies in Congress to keep up the pressure with the impeachment process.

The problem for the elders in the GOP is that they are unable to shake off the Trump factor — the harder they try, the more popular he becomes. For the Biden campaign, it is a two-fold worry: Trump gets the better of the incumbent in any hypothetical match up; and Nikki Haley who still trails Trump in the GOP pack also gets the better of Biden.

The writer is a senior journalist who has reported from Washington DC on North America and UN