The House Homeland Security Committee began consideration Tuesday morning of a resolution to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, but appeared to be nowhere near a final vote more than eight hours later.
The measure would impeach the DHS leader for what it calls a willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law and breach of public trust, and the markup Tuesday allowed a partisan clash to play out at the committee.
Chairman Mark E. Green, R-Tenn., before a dinner break, indicated those clashes likely aren’t over.
“We want to give you guys an opportunity to go get fed and be ready because I think it’s going to be a long evening,” Green said.
House Republicans argued Tuesday that Mayorkas has abused his authority to grant humanitarian parole to migrants and flouted requirements to detain those who cross the border illegally.
“We cannot allow this border crisis to continue. We cannot allow fentanyl to flood across our border or criminals to waltz in undeterred. And we cannot allow a Cabinet secretary with no regard for the separation of powers or the rule of law to remain in office,” Green said in his opening remarks.
The articles also allege that Mayorkas knowingly made false statements to Congress about the security of the border and has failed to comply with multiple subpoenas from committees.
Committee Democrats labeled the markup a political stunt and said that Republicans’ justifications for the impeachment were flimsy.
“Mayorkas has faithfully implemented the administration’s border policies — policies Republicans apparently disagree with. But policy differences are not impeachable,” ranking member Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said.
The markup became contentious from the start, when Thompson made four motions about procedural matters, such as requiring the impeachment resolution to be read aloud and a point of order that a substitute amendment from Green was not germane. Republicans blocked each of the motions on party-line votes.
The panel spent most of the first hours debating that Green amendment, with breaks for members to vote on the floor. By the end of typical business hours, the panel had only begun debate on one amendment to that amendment, which was offered by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.
Although it was just one line, Jackson Lee asked the committee clerk to read it in full, which is not common. Panel Republicans, likewise, rejected her request, but Jackson Lee asked for a roll call vote.
That prompted Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., to tell Green: “If the minority is going to require that every amendment they offer be read and not dispense with the reading, I say, let them read it. We can be here all night, that’s fine with me.”
Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., replied with a line that made it seem Democrats were planning just that. “We look forward to your vote,” Goldman said.
The Jackson Lee amendment would strike the language to impeach Mayorkas for willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law.
Earlier Tuesday, Mayorkas sent a letter to the committee that denied the allegations against him.
The secretary pointed to border enforcement statistics, including that the Biden administration has removed, returned or expelled more migrants in three years than the Trump administration did in four years.
Mayorkas also wrote that he’s testified before the House Homeland Security panel seven times and that DHS has provided more than 13,000 pages of documents and data in response to the committee’s requests.
“I assure you that your false accusations do not rattle me and do not divert me from the law enforcement and broader public service mission to which I have devoted most of my career and to which I remain devoted,” Mayorkas wrote.
Also, DHS on Sunday released a memo defending Mayorkas, contending that current humanitarian parole programs are in step with past ones and that Congress historically hasn’t provided the necessary funding to meet migrant detainment requirements.