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House sends Mayorkas impeachment to Senate on second try

Democrats call the House GOP push to oust the Homeland Security chief a 'sham'

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing last year.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans voted Tuesday to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, sending the historic push to a Senate that is unlikely to convict and remove him from office.

The 214-213 vote came after months of conservative furor at Mayorkas and the Biden administration over immigration and border security policy. It was the chamber’s second attempt to adopt the impeachment resolution after a few Republicans bucked their party last week, sinking the effort in the closely divided House.

This time, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., returned from cancer treatment to put Republicans over the top, while three members of his party again voted against the resolution. The House last impeached a Cabinet member in the Grant administration in the 1800s.

The impeachment resolution contained two articles, “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and “breach of public trust.”

Republican leadership touted Tuesday’s vote as a victory as their party has sought to elevate immigration issues ahead of the fall election. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., the chair of the Republican Conference, said in a statement that Mayorkas had broken federal law amid an increase in crossings along the border with Mexico.

“House Republicans delivered accountability for the American people today when we impeached Alejandro Mayorkas for his willful and systematic refusal to comply with federal immigration laws and his breach of public trust,” Stefanik said.

Democrats and the Biden administration have called the impeachment a political stunt. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, called the vote a “sham” and accused Republicans of playing politics with the border.

“They haven’t done anything competent to run on, so they created a circus. Even their own people think it’s a joke,” Castro said.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., in a statement called the impeachment vote “a new low for House Republicans” and said they had not shown Mayorkas committed the kind of “high crimes and misdemeanors” required for impeachment.

“This sham impeachment effort is another embarrassment for House Republicans. The one and only reason for this impeachment is for Speaker Johnson to further appease Donald Trump,” Schumer said.

Schumer’s office said that once the Senate returns from its recess later this month, the House impeachment managers would present the articles of impeachment to the Senate. The next day jurors would be sworn in for the trial, with President Pro Tempore Patty Murray presiding, Schumer’s office said.

All 11 of the members who are in reelection races ranked as Toss-ups by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales voted along with their party. Republican Reps. Tom McClintock of California, Ken Buck of Colorado and Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin again voted against the resolution.

National security

President Joe Biden criticized Republicans for playing politics with impeachment and said the House should instead take up a national security bill passed by the Senate early Tuesday.

“History will not look kindly on House Republicans for their blatant act of unconstitutional partisanship that has targeted an honorable public servant in order to play petty political games,” the statement said.

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., told reporters Tuesday that he felt border security was a priority, and that he would not take up the Senate bill in its current form.

“National security begins with border security, we have said that all along,” Johnson said.

Johnson also said he was not concerned about the precedent Republicans would set by impeaching Mayorkas. Republicans have defended the decision to seek impeachment of Mayorkas, pointing to conditions on the border with Mexico.

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., said that House Republicans had pushed for accountability for the administration’s failures, and Democrats did not have a good argument in return.

“If I were in their place, I’d be saying the same thing, but I’m glad I’m not because it’s undeniable what has happened at our borders,” Kelly said. “And then the question is, who do you hold accountable for that?”

Last week, McClintock, Buck and Gallagher voted with Democrats against the resolution for a 215-215 tally. The measure was ultimately rejected on a 214-216 vote after Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, a member of leadership changed his vote allowing Tuesday’s vote to happen.

Over the weekend, Gallagher announced he would retire from Congress at the end of his term after four terms in Congress. Buck announced last year that he would not seek another term in Congress.

Niels Lesniewski and Jason Dick contributed to this report.

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