House Republicans failed Tuesday in their effort to impeach Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas for refusing to enforce multiple U.S. immigration laws after two hours of hard-hitting floor debate, despite earlier in the day having won a key procedural vote.
The motion to approve two Articles of Impeachment against Mr. Mayorkas was rejected with 214 members voting for it and 216 opposing it. Among the opposing votes were those cast by Republican Reps. Ken Buck of Colorado, Tom McClintock of California, Blake Moore of Utah, and Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin. Mr. Moore changed his vote in order to preserve a future parliamentary opportunity to reconsider the vote.
When the five minutes officially allotted for the vote expired, the count was a deadlock at 215 to 215, with one member not voting, House Majority Leader Steven Scalise (R-La.), who is absent while undergoing medical treatment for blood cancer.
The chamber erupted with Democratic applause when Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) announced the tally.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a staunch proponent of the effort to impeach Mr. Mayorkas, told reporters after the vote that Republicans plan to bring the measure up for a vote again next week when Mr. Scalise hopefully returns.
“We can bring this back to the floor for another vote and we can pass it,” she said.
When asked if she had a message to the four defecting Republicans, Ms. Greene replied: “I don’t think I have to give them a message. I think they’ll hear from their constituents and and hopefully maybe they change their mind over the weekend.”
Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) said after the vote that the result did not represent a failure of Speaker Johnson.
“I think it’s their own belief system,” he said of the four Republicans who voted against impeachment.
“We don’t carry a stick … we allow our members to vote their conscience and that’s what happened.”
The White House applauded the resolution’s defeat.
“Clearly there is bipartisan agreement that this baseless, unconstitutional impeachment stunt should fail,” Ian Sams, White House spokesperson for oversight and investigations, said in a statement.
“House Republicans ought to realize that extreme political stunts like this are a waste of time, and instead join the President, Secretary Mayorkas, and Republicans and Democrats who want to work together to deliver real solutions that actually strengthen border security,” he added.
The two Articles of Impeachment were reported to the floor last week by the House Committee on Homeland Security on a straight-party line vote. Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), that panel’s chairman, was the floor manager for impeachment during the two-hour debate. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the panel’s ranking member, was floor manager for the impeachment opposition.
Article I of the measure accused Mr. Mayorkas of a “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and claims that “in large part because of his unlawful conduct, millions of aliens have illegally entered the United States on an annual basis with many unlawfully remaining in the United States.
“His refusal to obey the law is not only an offense against the separation of powers in the Constitution of the United States, it also threatens our national security and has had a dire impact on communities across the country,” it reads.
Article II accused Mr. Mayorkas of breaching the public trust by having “knowingly made false statements, and knowingly obstructed lawful oversight of the Department of Homeland Security [DHS], principally to obfuscate the results of his willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law.”
Among 10 alleged examples, the article argues that Mr. Mayorkas “delayed or denied access of DHS Office of Inspector General [OIG] to DHS records and information, hampering OIG’s ability to effectively perform its vital investigations, audits, inspections, and other reviews of agency programs and operations to satisfy the OIG’s obligations.”
In his opening remarks of the debate, Mr. Green said that under Mr. Mayorkas, “we’ve all watched the unprecedented crisis at our borders unfold. We’ve seen the chaos. Under Secretary Mayorkas’ watch, Customs and Border Protection has reported more than 8.5 million encounters at our borders, including more than 7 million apprehensions at the Southwest border.
“Even more terrifying is the approximately 1.8 million known gotaways, that Border Patrol agents detect, but are unable to apprehend. Millions of those inadmissible aliens who are encountered are eventually released into our communities. This has never happened before in our history. And it doesn’t happen by accident.”
Mr. Thompson’s opening statement set the tone for the Democratic responses throughout the debate, with the Mississippi Democrat declaring “what is happening here today is a travesty and an affront to the United States Constitution. It will do nothing to solve challenges at our border. And it is a baseless attack on a dedicated public servant.
“Republican Members of Congress, sworn to support and defend the Constitution, are rejecting the framers’ intent and over two centuries of precedent in favor of a politically motivated sham impeachment. Republicans have failed to make a constitutionally viable case. Neither of the two articles are a high crime and misdemeanor under the Constitution.”
As the parade of advocates for each side took the floor podiums to have their say, the rhetoric became sharper and more shrill, with Rep. Jamie Raskin, the Maryland Democrat who is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, calling it the “slapstick impeachment drive” that he said was mounted by the “Trump-Putin MAGA faction” of the Republican Party.
Similarly, Rep. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) argued that “House Republicans are focused on just one thing, pleasing former President Trump.”
On the other side, Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) called Mr. Mayorkas “this bum” and “this Benedict Arnold.”
Joseph Lord contributed to this report.