Feb 13, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Mayorkas becomes first cabinet secretary impeached since 1876

Alejandro Mayorkas, wearing a blue suit and light teal shirt against a turquoise Superbowl LVIII backdrop

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images.

The House on Tuesday voted 214-213 to impeach Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas over his handling of an influx of migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Why it matters: It's the first time since War Secretary William Belknap in 1876 that a cabinet secretary has been impeached, though Mayorkas is all but certain to be acquitted by the Senate.

  • The vote was Republicans' second attempt at impeachment following their shocking loss last week, in which the three GOP defections and the absence of House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) led to a tie vote.

Driving the news: The House impeached Mayorkas on two counts, "willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law" and "breach of public trust."

  • Reps. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) and Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) voted with all Democrats against impeachment.

The details: The 22-page articles of impeachment accuse Mayorkas of failing to comply federal law and court rulings around migrant detention and blames him for a surge in border crossings during the Biden administration.

  • Mayorkas has "demonstrated he will remain a threat to national and border security" and "acted in a manner grossly incompatible with his duties and the rule of law," the measure says.
  • Additionally, Mayorkas is accused of false statements to Congress and obstructing oversight from Congress and the DHS inspector general.

The other side: Democrats, DHS officials and some Republicans have blasted impeachment as a political effort not backed up by evidence.

  • McClintock, in a memo, said the articles "stretch and distort the Constitution" and warned they are headed for "repudiation" in the Senate.
  • "House Republicans will be remembered by history for trampling on the Constitution for political gain," DHS spokesperson Mia Ehrenberg said in a statement.

What's next: The articles now head to the Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has declined to commit to holding a trial.

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