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On Senate floor, Mayorkas impeachment sparks procedural clash

Little room for debate on a point-of-order strategy from Democrats

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas impeachment managers Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., left, and Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., return to the House side Wednesday after the end of the Mayorkas impeachment in the Senate, as Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., conducts a TV news interview.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas impeachment managers Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., left, and Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., return to the House side Wednesday after the end of the Mayorkas impeachment in the Senate, as Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., conducts a TV news interview. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats grabbed the procedural upper hand Wednesday in the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, although it wasn’t entirely clear for everyone from the start.

On the floor, Massachusetts Democrat Edward J. Markey asked Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii: “Can you explain to me, procedurally, what is going on?”

Schumer had introduced a point of order stating the first of two charges against Mayorkas did not meet the constitutional standard for impeachment. The House had last impeached a Cabinet member in the Grant administration in the 1800s.

Republicans asked for a quorum call and huddled on the Senate floor, stalling a roll call vote. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Susan Collins of Maine and John Kennedy of Louisiana, among others, talked near Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

As they waited, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III, turned to Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, who was seated nearby. “Should we start a chant?” Manchin joked. “Vote, vote.”

When the Senate returned from the quorum call, Republicans countered Schumer’s point of order with motions that sought to move to closed session, delay the impeachment for weeks, or table Schumer’s pending action.

The Republicans sought to make arguments on the floor, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who presided over the impeachment proceedings, repeatedly reminded them that the Senate was in a posture to vote on the point of order, not debate.

Democrats shouted “no debate” at Minority whip John Thune, R-S.D., as he introduced another motion.

“I think it goes without saying that the Mayorkas-Biden policies have led to the worst border crisis in American history,” Thune said.

“You should’ve fixed it,” Democrats shouted across the aisle, alluding to the border security bill that stalled in the Senate in February after former President Donald Trump came out against it.

Each Republican motion was defeated on a party-line roll call vote. The GOP was not entirely unified. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted present on the vote to dismiss the first of two charges.

But Republicans spoke in no uncertain terms about the implications of the Democratic maneuvers, in their preambles to motions on the floor.

McConnell, before offering a motion to table Schumer’s point of order, said that Senate’s role in the impeachment process must not be abused or short-circuited.

“History will not judge this moment well,” McConnell said.

This report was corrected to reflect that Murkowski represents Alaska.

Michael Macagnone contributed to this report.

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