The U. S. House of Representatives failed to pass an impeachment resolution against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday, an embarrassing outcome for Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana).
The failed vote on Tuesday evening demonstrates the incredibly thin margin of error that Johnson has to work with within his own GOP conference.
The final tally for the vote was 214 votes for impeachment versus 216 against the measure. Four Republicans joined with Democrats to oppose impeaching Mayorkas, who Republicans have accused of refusing to carry out his functions as head of DHS, specifically on policies regarding the security of the U.S.-Mexico border and immigration.
Following the failed vote, as well as the failure of Republicans to pass another standalone measure that would provide funding to aid Israel in its genocidal military campaign against Gaza, Johnson reportedly “bolted” away from the House chambers, refusing to speak with media and appearing upset with the outcome.
On Wednesday, Johnson held a press briefing in which he discussed the failed impeachment vote, claiming that Mayorkas engaged in a “dereliction of duty” and “willfully defied” federal laws, and alleging that he lied directly to Congress in testimony.
Johnson also addressed the fact that four Republicans voted against the measure, stating that he “respects the conscience of everyone and how they vote,” but that he is “convinced” that there hasn’t “ever been a cabinet secretary who was so blatantly” out of compliance with federal law.
But critics of the vote, including the Republicans who sided with Democrats against it, disputed Johnson’s characterizations.
The impeachment articles “fail to identify an impeachable crime that Mayorkas has committed,” said California Rep. Tom McClintock, one of the GOP defectors, adding that they “stretch and distort” the constitutional provisions regarding Congress’s ability to impeach officials.
Sharing a video on social media of his speech before Congress preceding the vote on impeachment, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) decried the move as a political one, suggesting that Republicans were simply going after Mayorkas because they knew they couldn’t impeach President Joe Biden for any “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
“The wild goose chase to impeach Joe Biden has located no geese, but MAGA extremists needed a consolation prize, so they tried and failed to impeach Secretary Mayorkas,” Raskin said.
Other legal minds similarly lambasted Republicans for the unnecessary and politically motivated impeachment measure.
“These are the kinds of political games House Republicans play, as if they were 6 year olds…to push a bogus, meaningless impeachment of Secretary Mayorkas,” said Lawyers for Good Government vice chair Adam Cohen.
“The failure of the vote to impeach Mayorkas is very important in its own right, but even more because a group of Republicans bucked Speaker Johnson to exercise sanity,” opined Los Angeles Times senior legal affairs columnist Harry Litman, “exactly what needs to start happening generally.”
Even though they failed to impeach Mayorkas, some Republicans are saying there may be another vote in the near future, claiming that some of the four GOP lawmakers who voted against impeachment could switch their votes and that the return of Rep. Steve Scalise, the Republican House Majority Leader who was absent for health reasons on Tuesday, could result in a different outcome.
“This is not the end of our efforts to hold Secretary Mayorkas accountable,” said Rep. Mark Green (R-Tennessee). “I look forward to Leader Scalise’s return.”