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Editor’s note: A case of the Mondays

Special election realigns Congress again

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., gives a thumbs-up to Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., during the House Republicans’ news conference on Wednesday.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., gives a thumbs-up to Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., during the House Republicans’ news conference on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With its schedule and propensity for early mornings, late nights and close votes, it’s easy to lose track of what day it is in Congress.

The Senate’s Monday was a misnomer, because it had taken the rare step of working through the weekend to clear procedural hurdles necessary to, overwhelmingly it turned out, pass a foreign aid and military readiness package in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. It was, for senators, the end of the week, rather than the beginning. 

That did not mean senators could not be spotted jogging in Lincoln Park on Saturday; it takes very few of them to run out the clocks that run the chamber’s life. When all was said and done, the Senate passed the $95.3 billion measure, which includes aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, on a 70-29 vote, then gaveled out until Feb. 26.

Actual Tuesday was the House’s Monday. Members used their fly-in day to run the paces on some suspension bills, as usual, and then, after coming up short the previous week on the GOP effort to impeach Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, gave that another try. 

With Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., back in town after completing cancer treatment, the House voted to impeach Mayorkas on a 214-213 vote, making him the first sitting Cabinet member to be impeached. Three Republicans voted with all Democrats to oppose the impeachment resolution, but Scalise’s presence proved pivotal.

Four members were absent: Two Democrats, Judy Chu of California and Lois Frankel of Florida, and two Republicans, Brian Mast and Maria Elvira Salazar of Florida. 

A few hours after the vote, Democrat Tom Suozzi won the special election in New York’s 3rd District to replace expelled GOP Rep. George Santos. Suozzi won’t be sworn in until the end of the month. When he does, the House party division of 219 Republicans and 212 Democrats shifts again, with one more Democrat. 

Republican leaders pooh-poohed Suozzi’s win at their Wednesday presser, with Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., saying Suozzi “sounded like a Republican.” He also blamed the snow. “You know, there was a weather event that — that affected turnout,” he said. 

But a win is a win, and if significant votes are close, every member’s vote is potentially decisive. 

Speaking of members, House Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, R-Tenn., one of the driving forces in trying to remove Mayorkas from office, decided to remove himself from office.

One day after the successful impeachment vote, Green announced his retirement at the end of the current Congress after three terms. “At the start of the 118th Congress, I promised my constituents to pass legislation to secure our borders and to hold Secretary Mayorkas accountable,” Green said in a statement. “Today, with the House having passed HR 2 and Secretary Mayorkas impeached, it is time for me to return home.”

Left unsaid was the high unlikelihood of the Senate convicting Mayorkas, nor the Senate even coming close to considering HR 2. Green did say, “Our country — and our Congress — is broken beyond most means of repair. I have come to realize our fight is not here within Washington, our fight is with Washington.”

Perhaps to buffer Green’s sour assessment of life in Congress, on Wednesday House GOP leaders punted on plans to vote on a bill to renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, with the speaker’s spokesman posting on X, formerly Twitter, that Congress needs “more time to reach consensus.”

The chamber then defeated a rule for floor debate on legislation to double the cap on state and local tax deductions for married couples earning up to $500,000 — a priority for Republicans in high-income states like New York and California, where the majority will most likely be decided in November’s elections. Eighteen Republicans voted with all Democrats to sink the rule, 195-225. 

That afternoon House leaders sent notice that, contrary to the previous schedule, there would be no votes on Friday, and members would be sent home one day early. 

Who could blame them?

After so many Monday-like conditions, moving Friday to Thursday might have seemed like the humane thing to do. 

But the work will be waiting for them when they return after the Presidents Day recess. 

Jason Dick is editor-in-chief of CQ Roll Call.

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