House Republican vote to impeach Mayorkas fails, a big blow for Johnson

U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) makes a statement to reporters as Israeli Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana listens at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., February 6, 2024. 

Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

A Republican effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas failed Tuesday, after four members of the caucus bucked party leaders and voted against an impeachment resolution in the House.

The failure of the impeachment bill represents a major blow to House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who had portrayed the vote to impeach Mayorkas as a key part of House Republicans’ broader siege against the Biden administration, over its handling of the Southern border. 

The dramatic vote played out over 15 minutes, most of which were spent with the House deadlocked at 215-215.

Republicans could afford to lose only two votes, if all Democrats voted. But it was unclear whether Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green would make it — Green recently had surgery.

As the vote began, Green was wheeled onto the House floor, where he voted against the impeachment.

With Green’s no vote, and three Republican nays from Reps. Tom McClintock (Calif.), Mike Gallagher (Wisc.) and Ken Buck (Colo.), support for the impeachment hit a ceiling of 215, not enough to overcome the 215 no votes.

The standoff finally ended when Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah) switched his vote from yea to nay, not because he changed his mind, but simply as a procedural motion to end the vote, with a final tally of 216 opposed and 214 in favor.

Several Republicans have already promised to bring the articles of impeachment back to the floor again when they have enough support.

Regardless of what is next, the failure of Tuesday’s vote shot a big hole through more than a year’s worth of Republican investigations, hearings and threats to impeach Mayorkas over his handling of the border.

They have alleged that Mayorkas intentionally disobeyed federal immigration laws and prevented oversight of the Homeland Security Department. The allegations come after months of record high levels of migrants crossing the U.S. southern border.

If the House had approved the articles, Mayorkas would have been only the second Cabinet member in U.S. history to be impeached, and the first to be impeached while in office.

He could have then faced a trial in the Democrat-controlled Senate, where it was nearly impossible to see a path to the two-thirds majority needed to remove him from his post.

President Joe Biden repeatedly denounced the impeachment effort as a political stunt. On Monday, the president issued a statement in a format usually reserved for executive vetoes.

“Impeaching Secretary Mayorkas would trivialize this solemn constitutional power and invite more partisan abuse of this authority in the future,” Biden said.

“If the House of Representatives wishes to address these challenges, the Constitution provides an obvious means: passing legislation.”

The president himself is also facing a Republican-led impeachment probe related to his family’s business dealings.

While the December House vote to authorize the impeachment probe passed with unanimous Republican support, Tuesday’s failed impeachment of Mayorkas could prompt party leaders to think twice about holding another impeachment vote with a razor-thin majority.

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