(Bloomberg) -- House Republicans are preparing to vote to formally authorize an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden as early as mid-December.

The vote would require all House lawmakers to go on the record as supporting or opposing the impeachment inquiry conservative Republicans have been pursuing for months, something the 18 Republicans representing areas Biden won in 2020 could be reluctant to do. 

Rules Committee Chairman Tom Cole said GOP leaders are expecting to send to his panel legislation by Wednesday justifying a impeachment inquiry. He initially said that a vote on the House floor could occur by next Friday, but after a closed-door meeting with other Republican leaders and members he thinks it will occur the following week.

Later, after a closed-door meeting with House Republican leaders, Cole said the vote was likely to be delayed until the following week.

Republican Representative Ralph Norman  of South Carolina said GOP leaders didn’t want to lose a vote on the impeachment inquiry, which three congressional committees have been pursuing for months without formal authorization from the House.

“It’s not coming to the floor unless we have the votes,” Norman said.

White House spokesman Ian Sams dismissed the move toward impeachment as “another sad attempt by extreme House Republicans to try to distract from their own chaos and dysfunction.”

The move comes after Speaker Mike Johnson signaled earlier this week at a news conference that after months of preliminary investigation, the GOP would move into this next phase.

--With assistance from Maeve Sheehey.

(Updates with Cole later saying vote may be delayed to mid-month)

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