Jan 30, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House Democrats close ranks against "bulls**t" Mayorkas impeachment

House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark, Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar.

House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark, Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

House Democrats are expecting their caucus to stay unified against a Republican vote to impeach Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas that could come as soon as next week.

Why it matters: Republicans have a razor-thin majority and a handful of members are undecided. If Democrats can lock arms in opposition, the GOP will have almost no margin for error.

  • "I'm keeping an open mind on it. I want to see what the product of the committee is," Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) told Axios, saying Republicans "haven't found any" evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors yet.
  • Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) has also indicated he is leaning against impeachment.

What they're saying: "We believe this is a sham impeachment," House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) said Tuesday. "Based on what we've seen in the [Homeland Security] Committee, I can't imagine anybody, from the precedent standpoint, voting for this."

  • Both Aguilar and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said they plan to have conversations this week with Democratic lawmakers about their votes on impeachment.
  • "This is a bullsh*t political stunt by Republicans ... this is all theatrics, so I hope that nobody goes along with the bullsh*t," said Rules Committee ranking member Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).
  • Another senior House Democrat, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they “can’t imagine” any Democrats breaking ranks.

Zoom in: Democratic leadership urged rank-and-file members to be in D.C. next week at their Tuesday caucus meeting, sources told Axios. “It’s all hands on deck,” said the senior House Democrat.

  • "It's going to be important for House Democrats to show up and be united," Aguilar added. "Things come up in peoples' lives, but the most important thing we can do is exercise our ability to vote."
  • At least one House Democrat's attendance is uncertain: Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) is waging a primary challenge against President Biden and didn't respond to a request for comment on whether he plans to be in D.C. next week.

State of play: The Homeland Security Committee is meeting Tuesday to mark up two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas for allegedly refusing to enforce immigration laws and making false statements to Congress.

  • The vote could come as soon as early next week, according to Rules Committee Chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.).

What we're hearing: Several moderate or swing-seat Democrats who would be the most likely to break with their party on the vote are signaling firm opposition to impeachment.

  • Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine), the co-chair of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, said in a statement that Republicans are "wasting time with a pointless, unfounded impeachment inquiry against Secretary Mayorkas instead of working on a bipartisan border deal."
  • Rep. Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.), who represents a purple district that include parts of the U.S.-Mexico border, is "definitely" a no on impeachment, his office told Axios.
  • Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), another swing-district border Democrat, told Axios he is "against impeachment."

What's next: Vasquez and progressive Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.) are teaming up on a long-shot effort to upend impeachment in the Homeland Security Committee markup, Axios was told.

  • Ramirez plans to introduce an amendment substituting the impeachment measure for Vasquez's bill to appropriate additional funding for "smart" border security.
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