House GOP impeaches Mayorkas after previous vote failure

House GOP impeaches Mayorkas after previous vote failure

House Republicans impeached Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday, making him the first Cabinet secretary since 1876 to be impeached by the House.

A week after a first attempt that fell short and caused heartburn for GOP leadership, Mayorkas was impeached in a second vote, 214-213.

The Senate is all but guaranteed to sidestep it, with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office saying the articles will be presented after the upcoming recess with senators sworn in as jurors shortly after. Lawmakers predicted they could quickly dismiss the charges of betraying the public trust and refusing to comply with the law. The Senate is not expected to spend much time on the trial.

Three Republicans defected on the impeachment effort: Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), who all also voted “no” last week. But GOP leaders were able to revive the articles against Mayorkas with Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s (R-La.) return this week after treatment for blood cancer.

The vote comes on the same day that Republicans are trying to hold onto expelled Rep. George Santos’s seat. If Democrats flip the seat, that would likely have put impeaching Mayorkas just out of reach until special elections later this year.

The eventual success caps off months of Republican work to impeach Mayorkas, after they were caught flat footed last week when Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) showed up from the hospital to cast his no vote. Republicans, while acknowledging their own dysfunction, quickly tried to salvage the situation by noting they would impeach the Homeland Security chief as soon as Scalise returned.

The GOP views the border as a unifying issue in their raucous conference and an easy cudgel against Democrats as they head toward November. They’ve been building up support for the historic step for months, while also scuttling a bipartisan border plan in the Senate — raising the likelihood that legislation to address spiking migrant crossings isn’t signed into law this year.

In a statement after the vote, Speaker Mike Johnson said Mayorkas “deserves to be impeached.” “Since this Secretary refuses to do the job that the Senate confirmed him to do, the House must act,” the speaker added.

But even as GOP leaders tried to convince their colleagues to support impeaching Mayorkas, the effort wasn’t guaranteed. Last week it appeared to be on the verge of collapse as several Republicans remained on-the-fence just hours before the vote. Though leadership managed to win over nearly all of them, they still fell short because of opposition from Gallagher, Buck and McClintock, alongside full attendance from House Democrats.

Gallagher announced his plans to retire days after the vote, and Buck also plans to leave the House at the end of this term.

The GOP’s impeachment push has sparked pushback from the administration, typical GOP constitutional allies and congressional Democrats — and is already being turned against Biden-district Republicans up for reelection. In a post-vote statement, President Joe Biden said, “History will not look kindly on House Republicans for their blatant act of unconstitutional partisanship.”

“House Republicans will be remembered by history for trampling on the Constitution for political gain rather than working to solve the serious challenges at our border,” DHS spokesperson Mia Ehrenberg said in a statement. “While Secretary Mayorkas was helping a group of Republican and Democratic Senators develop bipartisan solutions to strengthen border security and get needed resources for enforcement, House Republicans have wasted months with this baseless, unconstitutional impeachment.”

Gallagher, Buck and McClintock each raised concerns that the Mayorkas impeachment didn’t meet the bar laid out under the Constitution — a concern from GOP-aligned constitutional experts who publicly urged Republicans against taking the step heading into last week’s vote.

The Department of Homeland Security, in a new memo on Tuesday, also made a final push to sway Republicans against impeaching Mayorkas, writing that they should “listen to their fellow Republicans and stop wasting time on this pointless, unconstitutional impeachment.”

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