House vote to impeach Alejandro Mayorkas fails, thwarted by Republican defections
Image via AP.

Alejandro Mayorkas
It's chaos once again in the Republican-controlled House.

In a dramatic setback, House Republicans failed Tuesday to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, forced to shelve a high-profile priority — for now — after a few GOP lawmakers refused to go along with the party’s plan.

The stunning roll call fell just a single vote short of impeaching Mayorkas, stalling the Republicans’ drive to punish the Joe Biden administration over its handling of the U.S-Mexico border. With Democrats united against the charges, the Republicans needed almost every vote from their slim majority to approve the articles of impeachment.

In a dramatic, rowdy scene on the House floor, the vote was tied for several minutes, 215-215. Several Republican lawmakers — led by the impeachment’s chief sponsor, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia — surrounded one of the holdouts, Wisconsin Republican Mike Gallagher, who refused to change his vote. With the tally stuck, Democrats shouted for the gavel to close out the vote.

The House is likely to revisit plans to impeach Mayorkas, but next steps are highly uncertain. In the end three Republicans opposed the impeachment, and a fourth Republican switched his vote so the measure could be revisited. The final tally was 214-216.

“Frustrated,” said Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, “but we’ll see it back again.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson, who could lose only a few Republicans from his slim majority, had said earlier he had personally spoken to Gallagher and another GOP holdout, acknowledging the “heavy, heavy” vote as he sought their support.

“It’s an extreme measure,” said Johnson, a Louisiana Republican. “But extreme times call for extreme measures.”

Not since 1876 has a Cabinet Secretary faced impeachment charges and it’s the first time a sitting Secretary is being impeached — 148 years ago, Secretary of War William Belknap resigned just before the vote.

The impeachment charges against Mayorkas come as border security is fast becoming a top political issue in the 2024 election, a particularly potent line of attack being leveled at President Biden by Republicans, led by the party’s front-runner for the presidential nomination, Donald Trump.

Record numbers of people have been arriving at the southern border, many fleeing countries around the world, in what Mayorkas calls an era of global migration. Many migrants are claiming asylum and being conditionally released into the U.S., arriving in cities that are underequipped to provide housing and other aid while they await judicial proceedings which can take years to determine whether they may remain.

The House Democrats united against the two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas, calling the proceedings a sham designed to please Trump, charges that do not rise to the Constitution’s bar of treason, bribery or “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

“A bunch of garbage,” said U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat. He called Mayorkas “a good man, a decent man,” who is simply trying to do his job.

Even if Republicans are able to impeach Mayorkas, he is not expected to be convicted in a Senate trial since Republican Senators have been cool to the effort. The Senate could simply refer the matter to a committee for its own investigation, delaying immediate action.

The three Republicans opposing impeachment were Gallagher, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado and Tom McClintock of California, who said the charges “fail to identify an impeachable crime that Mayorkas has committed.”

The conservative McClintock said in a lengthy memo that the articles of impeachment from the committee explain the problems at the border under Biden’s watch. But, he said, “they stretch and distort the Constitution.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Blake Moore of Utah was the Republican who switched his vote on procedural grounds.

The impeachment of Mayorkas landed quickly onto the House agenda after Republican efforts to impeach Biden over the business dealings of his son, Hunter Biden, hit a lull, and the investigation into the Biden family dragged.

The Committee on Homeland Security under Chairman Green had been investigating the secretary for much of the past year, including probing the flow of deadly fentanyl into the U.S. But a resolution from Greene pushed it to the fore. The panel swiftly held a pair of hearings in January before announcing the two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas.

Unlike other moments in impeachment history, the arguments played out to an almost empty chamber, without the fervor or solemnity of past proceedings.

Greene, who was named to be one of the impeachment managers if there is a Senate trial, rose to blame Mayorkas for the “invasion” of migrants coming to the U.S.

Republican U.S. Rep. Eli Crane of Arizona said Mayorkas had committed a “dereliction of duty.”

Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said the Mayorkas impeachment vote was a stunt designed by Republicans to sow “chaos and confusion” and appease Trump — rather than to govern.

“No reasonable American can conclude that you’re making life better for them by this sham impeachment,” Jeffries said.

A former federal prosecutor, the secretary never testified on his own behalf, but submitted a rare letter to the panel defending his work.

Tuesday’s vote arrived at a politically odd juncture for Mayorkas, who has been shuttling to the Senate to negotiate a bipartisan border security package, earning high marks from a group of Senators involved.

But that legislation, which emerged Sunday as one of the most ambitious immigration overhauls in years, collapsed Tuesday as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged that the deal was dead.. Trump had sharply criticized the bipartisan effort, other Republicans panned it and Speaker Johnson said it was “dead on arrival.”

Impeachment, once rare in the U.S., has been used as both a constitutional check on the executive and increasingly as a political weapon.

The House Republicans have put a priority this session of Congress on impeachments, censures and other rebukes of officials and lawmakers, setting a new standard that is concerning scholars and others for the ways in which they can dole out punishments for perceived transgressions.

Experts have argued that Mayorkas has simply been snared in a policy dispute with Republicans who disapprove of the Biden administration’s approach to the border situation.

Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley said impeachment is not to be used for being “a bad Cabinet member.” Lawyer Alan Dershowitz wrote, “Whatever else Mayorkas may or may not have done, he has not committed bribery, treason, or high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Scholars point out that the Constitution’s framers initially considered “maladministration” as an impeachable offense, but dropped it over concern of giving the legislative branch too much sway over the executive and disrupting the balance of power.

Three former Secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson, said in a letter Tuesday that impeaching the Cabinet official over policy disputes would “jeopardize our national security.”

Senators have shown little interest in a potential impeachment trial. “I don’t think the House should do anything that’s dead on arrival in the Senate,” said U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican.

Trump as President was twice impeached — first in 2019 on abuse of power over his phone call with the Ukrainian President seeking a favor to dig up dirt on then-rival Biden, and later on the charge of inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol. He was acquitted on both impeachments in the Senate.

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Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


7 comments

  • Michael K

    February 6, 2024 at 8:21 pm

    Another enormous waste of time and resources by feckless idiots like MJG and Gaetz who have no interest in governing – only petty grievances and theatrics. What saddens me the most are the people who succumb to their stupidity.

  • My Take

    February 7, 2024 at 12:55 am

    Impeach the Speaker!
    For losing.

  • Earl Pitts "Sage Politicale Expert Emeritas" Ameriecan

    February 7, 2024 at 7:09 am

    Good mornting America,
    I, Earl Pitts American, agree with my two Besty Leftys above. The whole “Lets Impeach Mayorkas” side-show was a total “Dook 4 Brains RINO” epic waste of time and money.
    As a result of me, Earl Pitts American’s “Epic Whizzed-Off Feelings” I, Earl Pitts American, hereby issue a “Painfull Chastizement” to rain down upon each and every “Dook 4 Brains RINO” in the House of Represenatives who foisted this side-show upon Our Great Nations. In addition to bad luck in Sports Betting, getting The Poon from your spouse or lover, bad luck in Personal Finances, Uglyness on your Face + Hair-Lose, these Dook 4 Brains Rinos in The House will all be voted out of office and replaced by “Sage Patriots” who follow the teachings of Earl Pitts American as yet another “Painfull Result” of “The All Powerfull and All Critical” Earl Pitts American”s Chastizement.
    “REAL DEAL – NO JOKE JACK”
    Thank you America and thank you my Besty Leftys, MICHAEL K and My Take,
    Earl Pitts “Earl Has Besty Leftys” American

    • rick whitaker

      February 7, 2024 at 8:15 pm

      earl pitts, you flat out lied. for months you mindlessly spouted the puke of thinking desantis was going to be president. you did it regularly and with malice. the truth of what desantis is, is a far cry from all the outrageous lies you told about how he was a good man. you should be forced to beg for our forgiveness for such lies. if you were a decent person you would apologize to the fp readers that had to listen to your childish and petty lies about the desantis maga scoundrel. the truth means a lot to me but not much to you. what a loser.

  • It's Complicated

    February 7, 2024 at 1:58 pm

    Impeachment needs to be taken off the table by both parties, because the U.S. Senate is not going to convict ANYONE (takes “Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present”) – even for impeachable offenses. It’s a waste of time and money.

    With respect to Impeaching Mayorkas as a “civil Officer”, utter incompetence and dutifully implementing the immigration policy agenda of the POTUS are not included in the U.S. Constitution’s Article II Section 4 short list of Impeachable offenses, which include “Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

    • rick whitaker

      February 7, 2024 at 8:20 pm

      it’s complicated, your comment contained a snide remark that implied that mayorkas was incompetent. how dare you degrade susc a fine civil servant . you must be a judgemental christian caveperson.

      • It's Complicated

        February 8, 2024 at 10:08 am

        No, I did not imply Mayorkas is incompetent – I expressed he is “utterly incompetent.” During his three years as head of DHS (installed Feb. 2, 2021), more people have illegally – in violation of U.S. Law, crossed the southern border than in any other period in history. That’s not being judgmental, rather it is making an observation based upon performance.

        Anti-Christian bigotry is still bigotry. Must suck going through life every day hating people for what they believe – or what you think they believe.

Comments are closed.


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