House Republicans fail to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
WASHINGTON — A monthslong GOP campaign to oust Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas collapsed in the House on Tuesday after Democrats and a trio of skeptical Republicans voted to reject a resolution to impeach him over his handling of the southern border.
The vote was 214-216, making a stunning blow for Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and House Republicans who have blamed the Biden administration for record migrant crossings and made border security a central campaign issue.
After a dramatic scene on the floor where leaders tried to whip votes, the roll call ended in a rare 215-215 tie. A member of GOP leadership, Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, changed his vote to no at the last minute so that Republicans can bring the issue up again when Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., returns from cancer treatment.
“The conservative base is gonna have a real problem. And they should. The conservative base does not deserve this,” Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., said after the failed vote, calling it a failure by GOP leadership. “It’s not that hard to know the votes.”
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., insisted that party leaders bring up the impeachment resolution for another vote. Johnson spokesman Raj Shah said on X they would at a time that’s still to be determined: “House Republicans fully intend to bring Articles of Impeachment against Secretary Mayorkas back to the floor when we have the votes for passage.”
One Republican aide texted to note that if former Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., hadn’t been expelled the vote would have succeeded. “Maybe we shouldn’t have kicked out Santos,” said the aide, who requested anonymity to speak freely.
Santos took the opportunity to post a photo of the tied vote tally in the House, saying: “Miss me yet?” A special election will take place next Tuesday to replace him in the swing district.
Had Tuesday’s vote been successful, Mayorkas would have been just the second impeachment of a Cabinet secretary in U.S. history — and the first in nearly 150 years . DHS spokesperson Mia Ehrenberg called the impeachment effort “baseless” in a statement. “If House Republicans are serious about border security, they should abandon these political games, and instead support the bipartisan national security agreement in the senate get DHS the enforcement resources we need,” she said.
The House impeachment vote went down to the wire with GOP lawmakers saying moments before the vote that they didn’t know the outcome. At one moment during the suspenseful roll call, Republicans thought they had enough members to impeach Mayorkas when someone pushed Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, onto the floor in a wheelchair and he cast his no vote. Lawmakers believed that Green was out sick and he had missed all previous votes in the day, but his last-minute showing tied things up at 215-215, shocking the chamber.
“I had to go to the emergency room and I had to have surgery, so it’s not easy to leave a hospital and get back here,” Green said after the vote, wearing blue hospital scrubs and socks. “So I always intended to show up. Mr. Mayorkas is a good man; that was a bad move. I had to be here.”
Two GOP lawmakers — Reps Ken Buck of colorado and Tom McClintock of California — declared before the vote that they would vote no. A third, Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., who is close to leadership, also voted against impeachment.
Gallagher, chairman of the select committee investigating the Chinese Communist Party, was among several Republicans who had expressed skepticism about the impeachment vote during a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning, lawmakers leaving the room told reporters.
Impeaching Mayorkas would “open Pandora’s box,” Gallagher warned his colleagues, according to a source in the room.
McClintock had argued in a floor speech last fall that Mayorkas had not committed impeachable offenses and warned that the GOP could be opening the door to future impeachments by the Democratic Party. He released a 10-page memo on Tuesday morning before the vote outlining his case against impeachment, saying Republicans “fail to identify an impeachable crime.”
Buck, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said in an opened in the hill: “To be clear, Secretary Mayorkas has completely failed at his job. He is incompetent. He is an embarrassment. And he will most likely be remembered as the worst secretary of Homeland Security in the history of the United States. “
“However, the Constitution is clear that impeachment is reserved for ‘Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.’ Maladministration or incompetence does not rise to what our founders considered an impeachable offense,” Buck wrote.