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Republicans Pass Impeachment Measure Against DHS Head Alejandro Mayorkas

Mayorkas is the first nonpresidential executive branch official to be impeached since 1876.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas testifies during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on November 15, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

By a margin of one vote, House Republicans passed impeachment articles against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, over questionable claims from GOP lawmakers he wasn’t performing the duties of his office in a sufficient manner.

The measure passed 214-213, with every Democrat in the chamber and three Republicans voting against it and the remaining Republicans voting for impeaching Mayorkas. Four lawmakers — two from each side of the political divide — were absent for the Tuesday night vote.

The House has not impeached an executive branch official other than a president since 1876, when Congress impeached Secretary of War William Belknap over bribery charges. Mayorkas is also the first sitting cabinet member of any presidential administration to be impeached.

The vote came a week after a previous vote on impeaching Mayorkas had failed in the chamber, then seen as an embarrassing outcome for Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana), who commands a very slim GOP majority in the House of Representatives. But with the addition of House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), who was absent during that previous vote for health reasons, Republicans were able to win the vote.

In a statement regarding the vote, Johnson claimed that the House had a “constitutional obligation” to impeach Mayorkas over allegations that he wasn’t enforcing border and immigration statutes. However, a number of lawmakers, including the three Republicans who voted against the measure — and likely, a majority of Senators who will now have to hold a trial regarding the impeachment — do not believe Mayorkas’s actions rise to the level of impeachable “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Instead, it appears that the vote is wholly political — that Republicans pushed for and secured impeachment against Mayorkas in order to help their likely candidate, Donald Trump, in his election bid against President Joe Biden.

“The absurdity of their effort is that Republicans haven’t produced any evidence that Mayorkas has committed crimes, never mind crimes that meet the threshold for impeachable offenses. … Their impeachment articles aren’t going anywhere in the Senate, where even Republicans have mocked their House counterparts for spending time on this stunt,” wrote HuffPost senior politics reporter Jennifer Bendery.

Mia Ehrenberg, a DHS spokesperson, derided the vote as “falsely smear[ing] a dedicated public servant who has spent more than 20 years enforcing our laws and serving our country.”

In explaining his reasons why he voted against impeachment, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) said the move would diminish the importance and graveness of the legislative tool.

“Creating a new, lower standard for impeachment, one without any clear limiting principle, won’t secure the border or hold Mr. Biden accountable,” Gallagher said in a press release after the first impeachment vote for Mayorkas. “It would only pry open the Pandora’s box of perpetual impeachment.”

Notably, had Republicans been delayed in holding the impeachment vote even by a few hours, it would have likely resulted in a tie, and thus failed again, as Democrats won a congressional special election in New York the same evening that the vote took place.

Now, however, the Senate will hold an impeachment trial for Mayorkas, where it is expected to fail, as two-thirds of that chamber is needed to vote for his removal. It’s unlikely, in fact, that the trial will even result in a simple majority in favor of endorsing that action.

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