WASHINGTON — As they rip the bipartisan Senate immigration deal, House Republicans will vote Tuesday on a resolution to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for failing to enforce immigration laws and secure the southern border.
If the resolution passes, it will be just the second impeachment of a Cabinet secretary in U.S. history — and the first in nearly 150 years. A successful House vote would send the matter to the Senate to decide whether to remove Mayorkas, though conviction is highly unlikely given that Democrats control the chamber and 67 votes would be needed.
The fact that House GOP leaders are bringing the resolution to the floor now suggests they feel confident they have the votes to impeach Mayorkas.
“Our goal is to get 218 Republicans, and I’m confident that we’re going pass that,” Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., told NBC News on Monday. “The issue is pretty clear: The secretary has willfully refused to do his job securing the southern border.”
But Republicans’ margin is expected to be extremely tight, given their razor-thin 219-212 majority. Republicans can lose only two votes if everyone is present and voting and all Democrats vote no, as they are expected to do.
At least one GOP lawmaker, Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, declared days earlier that he will vote no. And leaders are also closely watching Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., who argued in a floor speech last fall that Mayorkas had not committed impeachable offenses and warned that the GOP could be opening the door to future impeachments by the Democratic Party.
Buck, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said in an op-ed in The Hill: “To be clear, Secretary Mayorkas has completely failed at his job. He is incompetent. He is an embarrassment. And he will most likely be remembered as the worst secretary of Homeland Security in the history of the United States.
“However, the Constitution is clear that impeachment is reserved for ‘Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.’ Maladministration or incompetence does not rise to what our founders considered an impeachable offense,” Buck wrote.
The Mayorkas vote comes during a presidential election year amid a showdown between the House and the Senate over how to address the record number of illegal border crossings. The top four House GOP leaders issued a joint statement opposing the bipartisan Senate deal that would impose tougher asylum and border policies, saying it does not go far enough to stop illegal immigration.
“Any consideration of this Senate bill in its current form is a waste of time. It is DEAD on arrival in the House,” Speaker Mike Johnson and Majority Leader Steve Scalise, both of Louisiana, Emmer and GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York said in their statement.
Democrats and DHS officials have dismissed the GOP’s impeachment push as an election-year political stunt, arguing that Republicans have no desire to truly address the border crisis.
“This farce of an impeachment is a distraction from other vital national security priorities and the work Congress should be doing to actually fix our broken immigration laws,” the DHS said in a memo countering the impeachment effort. “They don’t want to fix the problem; they want to campaign on it. That’s why they have undermined efforts to achieve bipartisan solutions and ignored the facts, legal scholars and experts, and even the Constitution itself in their quest to baselessly impeach Secretary Mayorkas.”
Impeachment critics also point to remarks from key conservative figures blasting the GOP’s impeachment of Mayorkas.
Jonathan Turley, a legal scholar who has served as a witness for House Republicans, said there is “no current evidence that he is corrupt or committed an impeachable offense. … That is why the case has not been made to impeach Alejandro Mayorkas.” And Alan Dershowitz, who was Donald Trump’s defense attorney during his first impeachment, declared that Mayorkas “has not committed bribery, treason, or high crimes and misdemeanors” and that Republicans are impeaching “based on partisan considerations.”
The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board also has come out against impeaching Mayorkas.
A week ago, the House Homeland Security Committee, led by Chairman Mark Green, R-Tenn., passed the impeachment resolution on an 18-15 vote, strictly along party lines. The resolution, originally authored by far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., spells out two articles of impeachment.
The first article accuses Mayorkas of “willfully and systemically” refusing to comply with federal immigration laws. Because of that, it says, “millions of aliens have illegally entered the United States on an annual basis with many unlawfully remaining in the United States.”
The second article says Mayorkas “breached the public trust” by making false statements to Congress and knowingly obstructing congressional oversight of DHS.
“The facts don’t lie and the numbers don’t lie, and we have the data,” Greene, a member of the Homeland Security panel, said in an interview Monday. “We’ve had witness after witness corroborate the truth: Secretary Mayorkas has broken federal immigration law. … He’s also completely violated his oath of office.”
Johnson has already indicated whom he will select as impeachment managers to prosecute the case against Mayorkas in a potential Senate trial. Green, the Homeland Security chairman, rolled out a separate resolution naming himself and the 10 other GOP managers.
The others are Foreign Affairs Chairman Mike McCaul of Texas, who previously was Homeland Security chairman; Rep. Michael Guest of Mississippi, the Homeland panel’s vice chair; Rep. Andrew Garbarino of New York; Rep. August Pfluger of Texas; Rep. Laurel Lee of Florida; and five Freedom Caucus members: Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Clay Higgins of Louisiana, Ben Cline of Virginia, Harriet Hageman of Wyoming, and Greene of Georgia.