Jan 8, 2024 - Politics & Policy

GOP push to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas gains steam

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

House Republicans are growing increasingly comfortable with the idea of impeaching Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

Why it matters: Republicans have made border security their marquee issue going into 2024 as they prepare to try retake the Senate and the White House while defending their narrow House majority.

  • Just last week, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) led a delegation of 60 Republicans to a border site in Eagle Pass, Texas.

What they're saying: Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.), who voted in November against a rogue impeachment measure introduced by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), told Axios that a GOP leadership-sanctioned effort would be another story.

  • Asked whether he would be on board with impeaching Mayorkas, Duarte, who represents a district President Biden won in 2020, said: "Yes. If it comes out of committee. Just not under privileged motions."
  • Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), another of the eight Republicans who voted against Greene's impeachment resolution, has also said he will "vote to recommend Mayorkas be impeached" if it comes to the floor again.

Zoom in: Duarte is far from alone among Biden-district members in expressing openness to impeachment.

  • "I've had to manage complex government responsibilities," said Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.). "If [Mayorkas] worked for me… and he wouldn't, I'd have fired him."
  • "It's hard to defend the worst leadership we've ever seen at the border," said Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), adding that he will "weigh the arguments from both sides and go from there."

The other side: "The House majority is wasting valuable time and taxpayer dollars pursuing a baseless political exercise that has been rejected by members of both parties and already failed on a bipartisan vote," said a DHS spokesperson.

  • "There is no valid basis to impeach Secretary Mayorkas, as senior members of the House majority have attested, and this extreme impeachment push is a harmful distraction from our critical national security priorities."

The latest: The House Homeland Security Committee, which is taking the lead on impeaching Mayorkas, has a hearing on Wednesday morning entitled "Havoc in the Heartland: How Secretary Mayorkas' Failed Leadership Has Impacted the States."

Between the lines: "I do think that this is a distraction from more important issues," said Duarte, adding, "We are simply accommodating our least sensible — one of our five least sensible, conference members."

  • Duarte pointed to Greene saying she withdrew her second attempt to force a vote on impeaching Mayorkas after securing agreements from Johnson and Green to move forward with impeachment in committee.
  • One House Republican, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Axios they expect Mayorkas to ultimately be impeached, saying "we have seen no action and the pressure – material and political – only grow."

What's next: Republicans will have to navigate extremely tenuous vote math, with Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) leaving later in January and House Majority Steve Scalise (R-La.) working remotely until February.

  • Their margin could be as narrow as just two votes, meaning they will need to get nearly all Republicans on side – including some, such as Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), who continue to voice hesitance.
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