In a significant development, the House of Representatives voted on Monday to thwart a Republican effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. This decision puts an end, at least for now, to the threat against the Cabinet secretary that has been brewing ever since Republicans gained the House majority in January.
The push for impeachment was initiated by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a hard-right Republican from Georgia. Through a rule that enables any single member to force a snap vote on resolutions, including constitutional matters like impeachment, Greene managed to bring the issue to the floor. However, the resolution was ultimately sent to committees for further consideration, with eight Republicans joining Democrats in a 209-201 vote. It is worth noting that these committees are not obligated to take any action.
Extraordinary Use of Impeachment
Impeachment is typically reserved for serious misconduct in office but is now being employed as an extraordinary effort to remove Mayorkas based on his handling of the southern border situation. This vote, along with its Republican support, highlights a growing appetite among certain members of Congress to utilize the most powerful tools available and redefine the scope of impeachable “high crimes and misdemeanors.” It is important to recognize that impeaching a Cabinet official solely for their policy decisions would be an unprecedented move.
Accusations and Arguments
In her speech on the House floor, Greene accused Mayorkas of exhibiting a “pattern of conduct that is incompatible with the laws of the United States.” She cited record numbers of illegal border crossings, an influx of drugs, and his perceived “open border policies” as evidence supporting her claims. The impeachment resolution accuses Mayorkas of failing to fulfill his oath to “defend and secure our country and uphold the Constitution.”
Following the vote, Greene expressed her intention to potentially bring forth another impeachment resolution in the future. She argued that her colleagues would face pressure from voters to impeach Mayorkas, criticizing many Republicans for being “tone deaf to their constituents and voters.”
Notably, several prominent Republicans have vocally supported the GOP’s ongoing effort to impeach Mayorkas. House GOP whip Tom Emmer, the third-ranking House Republican, as well as Representative Tony Gonzales, a Texas Republican whose congressional district runs along the Mexico border, expressed their support for Greene’s resolution.
Throughout his congressional testimony, Mayorkas has consistently emphasized his commitment to securing the border and upholding the law.
The Ongoing Debate over the Impeachment of Secretary Mayorkas
In a recent statement, a spokesperson from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) dismissed accusations by House Majority members as baseless attacks, highlighting Secretary Mayorkas’ commitment to ensuring the safety of American citizens. However, these claims have not stopped Representative Greene from pursuing her resolution to impeach Mayorkas. This resolution characterizes the influx of migrants as an “invasion,” a term that has faced criticism from immigration advocates who argue that it aligns with the racist “great replacement theory.” Vanessa Cárdenas, executive director of America’s Voice, condemned Greene’s resolution as a dangerous and racist political stunt.
The scrutiny of the Biden administration’s approach to the Mexican border has been ongoing for several months, with Republicans seeking to build an impeachment case against Mayorkas. However, Greene has expressed frustration with the progress of these inquiries and has pointed to a recent fatal car crash in Texas involving a suspected human smuggler. This incident further complicates matters for House Speaker Mike Johnson, who is currently juggling potential impeachment proceedings against Mayorkas and delicate negotiations over government funding legislation to prevent a federal shutdown.
Johnson, acknowledging the seriousness of the situation, stated in a Fox News interview that he believes Mayorkas has committed “impeachable offenses.” However, he also recognized the limited time and resources available for such proceedings. It is worth noting that Mayorkas’ potential impeachment would be an exceptionally rare event, as only one cabinet official – Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876 – has ever faced impeachment. Belknap’s impeachment was the result of a House investigation that revealed evidence of kickback payments related to government contracts.