The House fell short in an attempt to adopt a resolution to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday, when a few Republicans voted against their party’s push to oust him over the Biden administration’s handling of border policy.
The vote ended at 214-216, but only after the chamber first found itself with a rare tie vote. Had it succeeded, the House would have voted to impeach a Cabinet secretary for the first time since the administration of Ulysses S. Grant in the 1800s.
Instead, Republican Reps. Tom McClintock of California, Ken Buck of Colorado and Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin voted with Democrats against the resolution for a 215-215 tally.
Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., who has been absent for health reasons, was the lone member who did not vote. And Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, who had missed all earlier votes Tuesday, appeared in the chamber to vote against the resolution.
After several minutes with the tie tally, and shouts from Democrats calling for “order” for the vote to be over, Rep. Blake D. Moore, R-Utah, changed his vote to a “no,” a procedural tactic to allow for a possible motion to reconsider the measure in the future.
After the vote, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who introduced the resolution, said she would push for another vote as soon as next week.
“There hasn’t been a failure yet, we’re going to bring it back,” Greene, R-Ga., said.
The outcome in the House of the push to impeach Mayorkas had not been clear because of the narrow majority Republicans hold. Before the vote, Johnson had huddled for several minutes with leadership staff and other members while the chamber voted on an unrelated bill.
Republicans have argued to impeach Mayorkas on two articles, “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and “breach of public trust.”
During the floor debate, Rep. Mark E. Green, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, claimed that Mayorkas’ decisions allowed more immigrants into the country resulting in increased crime.
“Secretary Mayorkas has explicitly refused to comply with the law. His refusal to obey the law has led to the death of our fellow citizens and he refuses to do his job,” Green said.
Greene during the floor debate cast Mayorkas’ actions as a “willful refusal” to follow the law and allowing a “complete invasion” of the country.
McClintock who voted against the impeachment measure, spoke on the House floor Tuesday and published a 10-page letter, in which he criticized the Biden administration’s immigration policy but said that disagreements did not amount to impeachable offenses.
“The problem is that they fail to identify an impeachable crime that Mayorkas has committed,” McClintock wrote of the impeachment articles. “In effect, they stretch and distort the Constitution in order to hold the administration accountable for stretching and distorting the law.”
During debate on the rule, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, acknowledged disagreement within his own party over pursuing impeachment against Mayorkas. Roy pushed back against criticism from Democrats and “a few on my side of the aisle” for seeking to impeach Mayorkas for failing to follow the law.
“When the secretary violates his duty to the Constitution, violates his oath to defend the United States and the homeland then it is incumbent upon this body to call out and reject that secretary,” Roy said.
Democrats argued that Republicans pursued impeachment as a political exercise. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee, argued that Republicans had voted to cut border security funding and rejected out of hand a nascent border security and immigration compromise negotiated in the Senate.
“The truth is the extreme MAGA Republicans running the House of Representatives do not want solutions, they want a political issue,” Thompson said.
Thompson and other Democrats argued that Congress has never provided enough funds to detain all immigrants who cross the border illegally.
The Biden administration has stood by Mayorkas through the impeachment process. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday that President Joe Biden still had confidence in Mayorkas and that he had followed the law.
“Secretary Mayorkas has done everything that he can do to deal with what’s going on at the border and to deal with a broken immigration system,” Jean-Pierre said.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., demurred on Tuesday when asked by reporters how he would handle the impeachment process.
“Let’s see what the House first does,” Schumer said.
Niels Lesniewski, Megan Mineiro and Jason Dick contributed to this report.