Jan 30, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Mayorkas' fate hangs in balance as GOP holdouts weigh impeachment

Alejandro mayorkas

Photo: Photo: Kaylee Greenlee Beal/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The second-ever impeachment of a Cabinet secretary — and the first since 1876 — is likely to hinge on the votes of a few still-undecided House Republican holdouts.

Why it matters: Two storylines have largely dominated the House GOP's time in the majority: its remarkable unity on the border crisis, and its chaotic divisions on just about everything else.

  • Republicans hope that impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will energize their base and paint a portrait of incompetence and dereliction at the border ahead of the election.
  • But given the GOP's razor-thin majority — and the questionable standards some experts believe have underpinned the impeachment process — the gamble has the potential to backfire spectacularly.

State of play: The House Homeland Security Committee spent all day debating two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas ahead of a vote expected late Tuesday.

  • The articles charge Mayorkas with "willfully and systemically" refusing to comply with immigration laws and breaching public trust by knowingly making false statements to Congress.
  • Mayorkas responded today with a scorching six-page memo touting his agency's sharp increase in migrant deportations since May, efforts to combat criminal trafficking networks and his lifelong respect for law enforcement.
  • Democrats have locked arms against what many have called a "sham" or "bullsh*t" impeachment, meaning Tuesday night's vote out of committee will likely be along party lines.

What to watch: Where things get interesting is on the House floor, where the Republican conference will have almost no margin for error in a vote expected to be held next week.

  • "I'm keeping an open mind on it. I want to see what the product of the committee is," Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) told Axios, saying Republicans "haven't found any" evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors yet.
  • Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) said he's "not leaning in either direction," while Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) declined to tell Axios how he plans on voting.
  • Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) told Punchbowl News he remains a "lean no" on impeaching Mayorkas.

Between the lines: Complicating the House effort is the reality that Senate Republicans are on the verge of reaching a bipartisan agreement on what would be one of the harshest immigration bills of the century.

  • President Biden is eager and ready to sign the deal — but Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has declared it "dead on arrival" in the House, saying it doesn't go far enough.
  • Asked today whether he opposes the deal because former President Trump wants to campaign on the border crisis, Johnson called the notion "absurd" — before acknowledging he's spoken to Trump about the issue "at length."

The bottom line: One way or another, Mayorkas' impeachment will not culminate in his removal as DHS secretary, given his inevitable acquittal in the Senate.

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