House Preps for Historic Cabinet Impeachment Vote

Republicans hope to impeach DHS secretary Mayorkas, but the margin is slim
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2024 11:32 AM CST
House Preps for Historic Cabinet Impeachment Vote
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas testifies during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Oct. 31 on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough, File)

With an unprecedented vote, lawmakers will decide Tuesday evening whether Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas becomes the first Cabinet member impeached by the House in nearly 150 years. The House will vote on two articles of impeachment advanced by the Republican-controlled House Homeland Security Committee. Here's what to know:

  • The charges: Republicans say that in failing to prevent illegal entries, Mayorkas willfully violated immigration laws requiring him to maintain "operational control" of the border. He's accused of allowing migrants to roam free, breaching the public trust by misrepresenting the state of the border, and of evading congressional efforts to investigate him.
  • The defense: Democrats say Mayorkas has the right to set immigration policies, including to allow certain migrants into the country temporarily. They also say Mayorkas has been forthcoming, producing tens of thousands of pages of documents for the Homeland Security Committee and offering to testify before the panel in person.

  • The vote: With Democrats seemingly united against impeachment and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise absent for cancer treatment, the measure will fail if more than two Republicans vote no, per the New York Times. GOP Reps. Ken Buck and Tom McClintock have already said they'll vote against impeachment, as the evidence doesn't support high crimes and misdemeanors, per the Hill. It's a view supported by "legal experts, including some prominent conservatives," per the Times.
  • The Senate: Even if Mayorkas is impeached in the House, he's bound to be acquitted in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Two-thirds of senators would need to vote to convict, and "most Republican members there show little appetite for impeachment," writes David A. Graham at the Atlantic.
  • Opposition: Even if Mayorkas is forced out, "Biden appoints somebody else. The Democratic Senate confirms somebody else," Buck tells the Washington Post. "It's the Biden administration's policies he's implementing." The Wall Street Journal editorial board makes this same point: "Impeaching Mr. Mayorkas won't change enforcement policy and is a bad precedent that will open the gates to more Cabinet impeachments by both parties."

  • Mayorkas won't go: The secretary tells the Post that he won't resign if the House votes to impeach him. He adds he never expected this kind of "baselessly accusatory" politics, "rather than solution-focused." "It's pretty extraordinary right now," he says. "The rhetoric is more extreme. The polarization. I see less reaching across divides to bridge them."
  • Why not legislate? At the Atlantic, Graham notes the vote—"intended to either fire up or pacify" the Republican base—comes as Republicans appear to be walking away from a bipartisan immigration bill that would boost border security. "Some Republicans have openly admitted they oppose the bill because they want to keep the border as a bludgeon against Biden," he writes.
(More Alejandro Mayorkas stories.)

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