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 necessary response to the migrant crisis on the Southern border.
The vote also put to rest more than a year of Republican threats to impeach Mayorkas over his handling of the border.
Every Democrat voted against the resolution, which contained two articles of impeachment. And after several hours of debate, enough Republicans voted ‘no’ to sink the resolution.
Republicans could afford to lose only three votes if all House members cast ballots. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) did not vote because he was outside Washington, being treated for cancer.
House Republicans 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 measure, Mayorkas would have been the second Cabinet member in U.S. history to be impeached and the first since 1876. He would have then faced a trial in the Democrat-controlled Senate, where a path to the two-thirds majority needed to remove him from office would be unlikely.
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.”
Biden’s scolding comes as he waits for Congress to pass a $118 billion bipartisan border security bill, which was released Sunday after months of Senate negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said a vote will be scheduled on Wednesday, though conservative opposition could hinder that timeline.
The president himself is also facing a Republican-led impeachment probe related to his family’s business dealings. Tuesday’s failed impeachment of Mayorkas could send GOP lawmakers back to the drawing board as they pursue the same measure for Biden.
This is a developing story, please check back for updates.