Washington — Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas narrowly survived an impeachment vote on Tuesday within the House after a small group of Republicans helped sink the GOP-led effort.
The House voted 216 to 214 in opposition to impeaching Mayorkas over his dealing with of the U.S.-Mexico border, with 4 Republicans voting with all Democrats.
Republicans who voted in opposition to the impeachment decision stated Mayorkas’ conduct didn’t rise to the extent of an impeachable offense and warned concerning the precedent the vote would set.
Rep. Tom McClintock, a California Republican, stated Tuesday morning that the impeachment articles “fail to identify an impeachable crime that Mayorkas has committed” and “stretch and distort the Constitution in order to hold the administration accountable for stretching and distorting the law.”
Democrats accused Republicans of utilizing the impeachment push to attain political factors forward of the 2024 election, with immigration being a high voter concern. They additionally argued that it failed to satisfy the bar of a excessive crime or misdemeanor, a criticism shared by authorized consultants on each side of the aisle.
Mia Ehrenberg, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, stated in an announcement that the “baseless impeachment should never have moved forward.”
“If House Republicans are serious about border security, they should abandon these political games, and instead support the bipartisan national security agreement in the Senate to get DHS the enforcement resources we need,” she stated after the vote. “Secretary Mayorkas remains focused on working across the aisle to promote real solutions at the border and keep our country safe.”
Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, one of many Republicans who voted in opposition to impeachment, indicated one other vote may happen as soon as House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, returns to work. Scalise has been working remotely as he undergoes most cancers therapy.
GOP Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, teased one other vote.
“This is not the end of our efforts to hold Secretary Mayorkas accountable,” Green stated in a social media publish. “I look forward to Leader Scalise’s return.”
White House spokesperson Ian Sams stated the vote’s failure ought to ship the message that “extreme political stunts like this are a waste of time,” and known as on House Republicans to work with President Biden on delivering “real solutions that actually strengthen border security.”
Why did Republicans try and impeach Mayorkas?
Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee sped by way of impeachment proceedings, holding simply two hearings inside eight days in January. Republicans unveiledin opposition to Mayorkas with out listening to testimony from him amid a disagreement about when he may seem.
The costs accuse Mr. Biden’s high immigration official of “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and “breach of public trust” over the administration’s dealing with of the migrant disaster on the southern border.
The first impeachment article accuses Mayorkas of failing to implement immigration legal guidelines and releasing migrants into the U.S. who ought to have been detained. The second article alleges he lied to lawmakers about whether or not the southern border was safe when he beforehand testified that his division had “operational control” of the border. It additionally accuses Mayorkas of obstructing congressional oversight of his division.
The Department of Homeland Security has stated Congress has by no means given the manager department the assets and personnel wanted to detain each migrant as required by federal immigration legislation. The division additionally denied Mayorkas lied to lawmakers, pointing to how DHS makes use of “operational control” internally.
Green stated in an announcement that impeachment was crucial as a result of Mayorkas’ “actions created this unprecedented crisis, turning every state into a border state.”
In an announcement on Monday, the Biden administration stated it was “an unprecedented and unconstitutional act of political retribution that would do nothing to solve the challenges our nation faces in securing the border.”
The street to the Mayorkas impeachment vote
Mayorkas has been underneath menace of impeachment over his dealing with of the border since Republicans took management of the House in 2023.
GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgiain opposition to Mayorkas in early November, saying he had “violated his oath to uphold this constitutional duty” by permitting an “invasion” of undocumented immigrants. The House voted to refer the decision to the Homeland Security Committee, which was already investigating Mayorkas.
Greene, outraged by the transfer, tried to pressure a vote on a second decision concentrating on Mayorkas, howeverafter receiving assurances from House leaders the sooner effort would proceed on the committee degree.
At the time, a number of House Republicans expressed issues about impeaching Mayorkas, saying that his conduct didn’t quantity to impeachable offenses.
Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the highest Democrat on the Homeland Security committee, stated on Jan. 29 that the referral ought to have gone to the House Judiciary Committee. Thompson stated it is “the first-ever impeachment consideration by a committee other than the Judiciary Committee.”
“It’s unusual,” Thompson stated. “It speaks of a deal being made.”
Green, the committee chairman, countered that Democrats voted to ship it to the Homeland Security panel.
The committee introduced itsin early January, with its coming eight days later. Lawmakers heard from the grieving moms of victims of violent crime and fentanyl overdoses, in addition to three state attorneys common who’re suing Mayorkas. Two legislation professors additionally testified that there was not a constitutional foundation for Mayorkas’ impeachment.
On Jan. 30, the committeeon a party-line vote after a prolonged markup during which Republicans faulted Mayorkas for not maintaining migrants in detention and blamed him for deaths brought on by fentanyl, whereas Democrats known as the costs baseless.
“We’ve heard a lot from my Republican colleagues today about how this is our only option,” Rep. Dan Goldman, a New York Democrat, stated through the markup. He stated Congress may tackle the issue by passing laws, however famous that House Republicans wish to sinkbetween a bipartisan group of senators and the Biden administration that’s designed to cut back the unprecedented ranges of unlawful crossings lately.
House Republicans counter that they handed a border safety invoice generally known as H.R. 2 final yr, although it had no Democratic assist and was useless on arrival within the Senate.
Mayorkas defended himself in opposition to Republican assaults in a letter despatched to the committee forward of final week’s vote to advance the invoice to the House flooring.
“I assure you that your false accusations do not rattle me and do not divert me from the law enforcement and broader public service mission to which I have devoted most of my career and to which I remain devoted,” Mayorkas wrote, additionally highlighting the division’s efforts to extend migrant deportations and fight trafficking networks.
“I will defer a discussion of the constitutionality of your current effort to the many respected scholars and experts across the political spectrum who already have opined that it is contrary to law,” he added.
In an announcement condemning Republicans after the vote, Thompson praised the “few honorable Republicans” who “stood up for the Constitution and against the extremists running their party.”
“If Republicans continue down this path history will judge them, and it won’t be favorably. This nonsense must stop,” he stated.
Which Republicans voted in opposition to impeachment?
- Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado
- Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin
- Rep. Tom McClintock of California
- Rep. Blake Moore of Utah
— Ellis Kim contributed to this report.