Washington — The House on Tuesday is expected to vote for a second time in a week to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas after Republican leaders suffered an embarrassing defeat in their first effort.
Mayorkas narrowly survivedafter a small group of Republicans, who said President Biden’s border chief did not commit impeachable offenses for his handling of the U.S.-Mexico border crisis, voted with all Democrats to sink it.
Republicans vowed they would try again once House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, who had been undergoing cancer treatment, returned to Washington. The Louisiana Republicanthis week, giving them another vote that is expected to tip the scale in their favor, barring any absences.
The vote comes the same day as a special election in New York’s third congressional district to , which could further narrow the House’s Republican majority. The possibility of Democrats picking up the swing seat puts pressure on Republicans to move quickly with another vote.
In a statement Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security said the impeachment push was “pointless,” “unconstitutional” and “baseless.”
The impeachment case against Mayorkas
Republicans assert Mayorkas should be charged with high crimes and misdemeanors for not enforcing immigration laws. They’ve focused much of their arguments on the failure to detain all migrants while they await court proceedings.
Mayorkas and Democrats have contended that it’s a matter of policy differences, arguing that Republicans are using impeachment to score political points during an election year. They say it’s up to Congress to fix the “broken” immigration system and allocate more resources to border security.
Legal experts on both sides of the aisle have also criticized the effort, saying Mayorkas’ actions fail to meet the threshold for impeachment.
Last month, Republicans unveiledagainst Mayorkas after speeding through .
The first impeachment article accuses Mayorkas of releasing migrants into the U.S. who should have been detained. The second article alleges he lied to lawmakers about whether the southern border was secure when he previously testified that his department had “operational control” of the border, and accuses Mayorkas of obstructing congressional oversight of his department.
The Department of Homeland Security has said Congress has never given the executive branch the resources and personnel needed to detain every migrant as required by federal immigration law. It also denied Mayorkas lied to lawmakers, pointing to how the department uses “operational control” internally.
“The problems with our broken and outdated immigration system are not new,” Mayorkas wrote last month in a letter to Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “We need a legislative solution and only Congress can provide it.”
Mayorkas also said the push to impeach him had not shaken him.
“I assure you that your false accusations do not rattle me and do not divert me from the law enforcement and broader public service mission to which I have devoted most of my career and to which I remain devoted,” he previously wrote in a letter to the committee.
Republican leaders went ahead with last week’s nail-biter of a floor vote amid uncertainty about whether they had enough support to impeach Mayorkas.
It looked like the vote was going to succeed, with three GOP defections, until Rep. Al Green wasin his hospital scrubs after intestinal surgery. The Texas Democrat tied the vote at 215-215, defeating the resolution.
A fourth Republican also switched his vote at the last minute to give GOP leaders the opportunity to bring up the vote again, making the final vote 214 in favor to 216 against.
Scalise was the only lawmaker absent from the vote.
One of the Republican lawmakers who broke with his party, Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, said in a Wall Street Journal piece last week that the GOP is setting “a dangerous new precedent that would be used against future Republican administrations.” Gallagher announced days after the impeachment vote that he would not seek reelection.