The House Homeland Security Committee approved a resolution early Wednesday to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, about 15 hours after a contentious markup began.
The committee voted 18-15 along party lines at about 1 a.m. to advance the measure to the House floor. Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., wrote last week in a letter to House Republicans that the resolution will receive a floor vote “as soon as possible.”
The measure seeks to impeach the DHS leader for “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and “breach of public trust.” The first and only time a Cabinet-level official has been impeached was during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant in the late 1800s, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Committee Republicans argued in part during the markup that Mayorkas has abused his authority to grant humanitarian parole to migrants and flouted requirements to secure the border and detain those who cross the border illegally, causing an increase in migration at the southwest border.
Democrats on the panel labeled the impeachment resolution an unproductive political stunt and said that Republicans’ justifications were based on different policy opinions rather than credible offenses.
Democrats made multiple procedural motions to delay the committee markup that were consistently rejected in party-line votes. They also made the panel’s clerk read aloud all of their offered amendments, which is unusual.
But Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., the resolution’s sponsor, said they could not stop the inevitable.
“Secretary Mayorkas is breaking the law. We are going to impeach Secretary Mayorkas today on this committee. We don’t care how long [Democrats] go on,” Greene said.
“Secretary Mayorkas is willfully breaking federal immigration laws,” Greene said. “That’s what we’re talking about today. This is not a policy debate. This is proof you can’t lie about the numbers.”
Democrats countered that Republicans were holding Mayorkas to an unrealistic standard and that the real issue lies with Congress not providing the Department of Homeland Security with necessary funding.
Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., who served as the lead counsel for House Democrats in former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment, said that if Republicans are going to impeach Mayorkas on claims that he fails to adhere to the letter of the law, then they “better impeach every single secretary of Homeland Security from the past five administrations,” because “it’s an impossible standard with the resources that they have.”
The panel voted 15-18 along partisan lines to reject five amendments from Democrats, including separate ones that would strike each impeachment article.
Chairman Mark E. Green, R-Tenn., ruled that four other Democratic amendments were out of order because he said they were not germane to the underlying measure, such as a proposal to replace the resolution with language stating that the Mayorkas impeachment is an attempt to distract from Trump’s legal problems.
Committee Democrats wanted to offer more amendments, but the Republicans voted to end debate. Green said this was because many of the additional Democratic amendments were “inflammatory” and not relevant.
Ranking member Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., criticized Republicans for shutting down debate “of their sham impeachment articles in the dark of night.”
“They were either uncomfortable being confronted by the facts or they lacked the stamina to entertain a fulsome debate of a resolution the Committee entertained to buy off Marjorie Taylor Greene and the extreme MAGA Republicans who have taken over the Republican conference,” Thompson said in a statement after the markup.
Throughout the meeting, Democrats slammed Republicans, most notably Trump and Johnson, for their opposition to a possible bipartisan immigration deal in the Senate.
“This is an impeachment process that [Republicans] are moving forward because [they] claim that Secretary Mayorkas … is failing to secure the border. The irony of the fact that Secretary Mayorkas has spent the last two months plus with a bipartisan group of senators negotiating legislation that would address the problems at the border should not be lost on anyone,” Goldman said.
House Republicans have said they won’t back a security assistance package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan without substantial changes to border policy, which spurred the Senate negotiations. President Joe Biden has endorsed the bipartisan immigration framework.
No bill text has been made public, however, which Rep. Michael Guest, R-Miss., and other Republicans on the Homeland Security Committee pointed out.
“I am disappointed that our senators refuse to engage the House of Representatives,” Guest said. “They don’t allow Chairman Green or ranking member Thompson a seat at the table. We don’t know what’s in that bill. I can’t speak to whether I’ll support the bill or not.”
Mayorkas on Tuesday sent a letter to the committee that denied the allegations against him, citing DHS border enforcement statistics and actions under his leadership.
In the lead up to Tuesday’s markup, the Homeland Security Committee completed a yearlong investigation into the Biden administration’s border policies that produced five interim reports critical of Mayorkas.
The committee also held two impeachment hearings earlier this month, with testimony from state attorneys general, constitutional law professors and family members of individuals who were killed by fentanyl and a suspected MS-13 gang member.