Feb 6, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House GOP erupts in fury over "embarrassing" and "shameful" defeats

House Speaker Mike Johnson

House Speaker Mike Johnson. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images.

House Republicans' exasperation and angst boiled over on Tuesday as votes to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and pass an
Israel aid package went down in defeat.

Why it matters: It's part of a broader pattern of House Republican leadership struggling to pass measures through the narrowly divided chamber due in large part to their sharply divided conference.

  • "I knew that we would have … the ability to block the Democrat agenda," Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) told Axios. "We've exceeded my wildest expectations on blocking, because we not only block the Democrat agenda, we block the Republican agenda."
  • "We don't have command of the field," he added.

Driving the news: The Mayorkas vote ended in a 215-215 tie after three Republicans — Reps. Ken Buck (Colo.), Mike Gallagher (Wisc.) and Tom McClintock (Calif.) — joined Democrats in voting against it.

  • Coming out of the chamber after the vote, conservative Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) called the result "shameful," telling Axios: "I mean, what the hell are they thinking? We should have gotten this done."
  • "I'm frustrated," said Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.). "There's a plethora of reasoning and justification and evidence ... I just don't understand why we can't do the one thing the American people want."
  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), one of the most vocal supporters of impeachment, said of the Republicans who voted against it: "I don't think I have to give them a message — I think they'll hear from their constituents."
  • "It's very frustrating as a freshman to realize that we don't have the cohesiveness and the fortitude to come together to vote what's right for America," said Rep. Mark Alford (R-Mo.).

The other side: The Republican defectors on impeachment argued Mayorkas hasn't committed an impeachable offense — denting the credibility of the effort.

  • "Creating a new, lower standard for impeachment ... won't secure the border," Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.) said in a statement.

The Israel bill, which failed to garner the two-thirds majority it needed to pass, spawned its own set of GOP anger as the Senate also struggles to pass a bill to fund Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan and border security.

  • "'Frustrating' is not the right word … it's maddening," Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wisc.) told Axios.
  • Rep. Max Miller (R-Ohio) chalked up the "standoff" on national security funding to "bad decision-making" by House GOP leaders, pointing to IRS cuts included in an earlier Israel aid bill that was blocked in the Senate.
  • "It's embarrassing," Miller said of the Israel vote. "They're trying to save face and do the right thing that should have been done to begin with … No one has to wonder how we got here, the speaker did it."

The big picture: The two outcomes have lawmakers criticizing leadership's general strategy and questioning why bills are being brought to the floor without the votes to pass.

  • "It's never good to bring something like that to the floor if it's going to fail," Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said of impeachment.
  • Mills said he is "not in the discussions with leadership on why they chose to do it this way," but added, "I personally wouldn't have done this."

What's next: Republicans suggested that the Mayorkas vote – which failed in part due to House Majority Steve Scalise's (R-La.) absence as he recovers from cancer treatment – will be brought back for another vote.

  • "If Scalise comes in tomorrow then we've got the votes," said Rep. Eric Burlison (R-Mo.). "So I think it just delays it."
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