In a significant blow to House Republicans, their attempt to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas fell short on Tuesday as four members of their conference sided with Democrats, resulting in a 216-214 vote against impeachment. Despite this defeat, indications suggest that Republicans may pursue another vote on the matter next week.
Defeat and Future Plans: The House Minority Leader, Hakeem Jeffries, labeled the impeachment effort a “sham” and celebrated the outcome, asserting that democracy prevailed while extreme MAGA Republicans faced defeat. The slim majority of House Republicans, reduced to 219-212 due to resignations and expulsion, meant they could ill-afford defections on the impeachment resolution sponsored by Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene of Georgia.
Defecting Republicans: Four Republicans—Ken Buck of Colorado, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Tom McClintock of California, and Blake Moore of Utah—joined Democrats in voting against the resolution. Blake Moore initially voted for impeachment but later switched to the “no” side, allowing the House GOP to revisit the vote. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, currently in Louisiana after cancer surgery, did not vote.
Impeachment Articles: Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene’s resolution presented two articles of impeachment against Secretary Mayorkas. The charges included willful and systemic refusal to comply with laws concerning border security and immigration and a breach of public trust.
Ongoing Criticism and Hearings: Republicans had conducted impeachment hearings throughout 2023, criticizing Mayorkas and the Biden administration for policies that, according to them, failed to secure the southern border. The rollbacks of Trump-era policies were cited as contributing to a surge in illegal border crossings, with record numbers reported in the 2023 fiscal year.
Border Security Statistics: Customs and Border Protection data showed a record 2,475,669 encounters with illegal immigrants at the southern border in the 2023 fiscal year. The first three months of the 2024 fiscal year saw 785,422 encounters, including 302,034 in December, a historic monthly high. The data suggests a trajectory exceeding 3.1 million encounters in the 2024 fiscal year, reflecting a 26.8% increase.
Historical Context: Only one Cabinet official has been impeached in U.S. history—Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876. Belknap resigned before being acquitted by the Senate.
Conclusion: While House Republicans faced a setback in their attempt to impeach Secretary Mayorkas, the possibility of a future vote indicates continued tensions over border security policies. The ongoing debate underscores the challenges and complexities surrounding immigration issues at the southern border.