WASHINGTON D.C. (NEWSnet) – The Republican-led House of Representatives approved an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden Wednesday evening.

House Speaker Mike Johnson issued what was called a joint statement from himself, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Rep. Elise Stefanik, saying, "Today, the House took a critical step in our investigation into serious matters involving President Joe Biden by formally opening an impeachment inquiry.... 

"The American people deserve answers. This impeachment inquiry will help us find them," the statement said.

House Resolution 918 calls for "Directing certain committees to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Joseph Biden, President of the United States of America, and for other purposes."

The vote was along party lines, 221 to 212.

While an official step, it is an early one. Impeachment can lead to removal from office if convicted in a Senate trial.

Authorizing a monthslong inquiry ensures that the impeachment investigation extends into 2024, when Biden will be running for reelection and seems likely to be squaring off against former President Donald Trump — who was twice impeached during his time in the White House. 

Ahead of the vote, Johnson called it “the next necessary step” and acknowledged there are “a lot of people who are frustrated this hasn’t moved faster.“

The decision to hold a vote came Johnson and his team faced growing pressure to show progress in what has become a nearly yearlong probe centered around the business dealings of Biden’s family members.

While their investigation has raised ethical questions, no evidence has emerged that Biden acted corruptly or accepted bribes in his current role or previous office as vice president.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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