House Republicans fell short Tuesday night of impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on charges of “willful and systemic refusal to comply” with federal immigration law and lying to Congress about the border being “secure.”
The resolution affirming two articles of impeachment against President Biden’s chief border enforcement officer failed almost along party lines — but with four Republicans crucially joining all 212 Democrats to vote against the resolution and the remaining 214 GOPers voting to impeach the 64-year-old DHS chief.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) was the only absentee from the vote, as he continues to undergo treatment for blood cancer. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) returned just in time for the vote following a mid-January car accident and was seen wearing a neck brace on the floor.
Mayorkas would have been just the second Cabinet official ever to be impeached by the House — and the first since Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876, who resigned while facing allegations of corruption.
Reps. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), and Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) initially joined with the Democrats in opposing impeachment, with the pro-Mayorkas forces helped by a surprise appearance from Rep. Al Green (D-Texas), who had missed earlier votes due to illness.
With the vote count even at 215-215 — meaning the resolution was on course to fail — Democratic lawmakers heckled their Republican colleagues with cries of “order” as the clock ticked down.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green (R-Tenn.), who had brought the articles to the floor, and others were spotted speaking with Gallagher to try to convince him to change his mind.
But Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah) brought the drama to an end by flipping his vote from “yea” to “nay”, drawing cheers from the Democratic side of the aisle.
With Scalise’s absence reducing their majority to 218-212 entering the day, House Republicans could only afford to lose two members’ votes and impeach Mayorkas.
In a floor speech Tuesday, McClintock said America’s founders “didn’t want political disputes to become impeachments, because that would shatter the separation of powers that vests the enforcement of the laws with the president.”
Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.) told The Post following a morning conference meeting that the holdouts “agree that Secretary Mayorkas has done a terrible job and has not enforced the law and has lied to the American public” — but added that each “have reservations about whether the impeachment clause allows for Cabinet secretaries or any elected official to be impeached on those grounds.”
All 216 GOP lawmakers present for a procedural vote earlier in the day had voted to allow the measure to move forward.
House Republican leaders had expressed confidence ahead of the vote.
“I don’t believe there’s ever been a Cabinet secretary who has so blatantly, openly, willfully and without remorse did exactly the opposite what the federal law requires him to do,” House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said, adding that it was “an extreme measure but extreme times call for extreme measures.”
On Monday, Johnson named the following impeachment managers: Guest, Homeland Security Committee Chair Mark Green (R-Tenn.) and Reps. Michael McCaul and August Pfluger of Texas, Clay Higgins of Lousiana, Ben Cline of Virginia, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Andrew Garbarino of New York, Harriet Hageman of Wyoming, Laurel Lee of Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who authored the resolution.
“For nearly a year, the House Committee on Homeland Security conducted a thorough, fair, and comprehensive investigation into the causes, costs, and consequences of the border crisis,” Green, who led the impeachment effort, said in Tuesday floor speech.
He went on to lay out the year-long investigation by his committee that involved trips to the southern border, interviews with current and former federal law enforcement officials, a field hearing, and testimony from state attorneys general and grieving mothers who lost their daughters to fentanyl and crime due to the border crisis.
“Democrats consistently claimed these hearings were a waste of time. Tell that to the families of the 150,000 Americans who died from fentanyl poisoning in 2021 and 2022 alone,” Green told House lawmakers.
“Instead, their only response was to simply shout ‘MAGA’ louder and louder, as if that’s a meaningful response to the millions of Americans suffering from this crisis.”
Green added in a Rules Committee hearing Monday night that the resolution would have held Mayorkas accountable for having “implemented a catch-and-release scheme, violating detention requirements and misus[ing] parole authority.”
Rules Committee ranking member Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) in debate on the House floor before the vote said the impeachment articles had “no evidence, no proof, no elements of a crime — nothing at all.”
Green had pointed out earlier in response that former President Richard Nixon, who faced an impeachment inquiry during the course of the Watergate scandal, did not face allegations of specific crimes.
McGovern further quoted holdout GOP members like Buck who cited a lack of identifiable crimes — and dinged Green for not being able to identify a possible successor should Mayorkas be ousted.
During Monday’s Rules Committee hearing, McGovern also entered a letter from attorneys at the Department of Homeland Security who called the impeachment “a radical and dangerous step in violation of the Constitution.”
House Homeland Security Committee ranking member Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) had also denounced the effort in past hearings as a “sham impeachment” and said Mayorkas had not committed high crimes and misdemeanors.
The impeachment resolution accused Mayorkas of failing to uphold the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 and lying to Congress about his enforcement of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 by claiming he had “operational control” of the border — and that it was “secure.”
It also says that the secretary refused to enforce the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, known as the Remain in Mexico policy, which forces migrants to await asylum hearings south of the US border.
Other policies allowed for humanitarian parole “en masse,” rather than the “case-by-case basis” required by federal law, according to the resolution, letting up to 30,000 migrants allowed in every month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela to await their US asylum hearings.
That has led to a backlog of more than 3 million asylum cases, the impeachment resolution added.
Since Biden took office in January, more than 8.5 million migrants have been apprehended by US Customs and Border Protection — with at least 7 million of those encounters occurring on the southern border.
Another 1.8 million known “gotaways” evaded arrest when entering the US.
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) drew attention during floor debate to a policy memo released by Mayorkas on Sept. 30, 2021, that he said was directly responsible for the massive influx and was also cited in the resolution.
The impeachment follows news in the Senate earlier on Tuesday that a new $118 billion border security package, with additional military aid funding for Ukraine and Israel, was effectively dead.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in a press conference admitted the the bill had “no real chance” of passing but still urged his conference to take up the military assistance in a separate supplemental bill.