A small number of House Republicans sided with Democrats in moving to punt an effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) filed the motion last week, leapfrogging Republican leadership to force the vote. It threw newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson into a messy debate that fires up a disgruntled party base but doesn’t unite his razor-thin majority.
A total of eight Republicans voted with Democrats on Monday night to send Greene’s resolution to committee, effectively pigeonholing it for now.
While Johnson has said he supports what would be a historically rare impeachment for a Cabinet official, he’s also having to contend with a coalition of frontliners, old-school conservatives and governing-minded pragmatists who aren’t yet sold that Mayorkas has actually committed an impeachable offense.
GOP Reps. Cliff Bentz (Ore.), Ken Buck (Colo.), John Duarte (Calif.), Virginia Foxx (N.C.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Patrick McHenry (N.C.) and Mike Turner (Ohio) voted with Democrats to refer to the resolution to committee.
The fight also comes five days before a potential government shutdown, sparking private grumbling that Greene’s resolution is badly timed. She had filed it late last week, forcing it to come to a vote for consideration within two legislative days.
Greene hinted over the weekend that she thought leadership was working to kill her resolution either by tabling it or trying to refer it to a committee. Ahead of Monday’s vote, she warned that “a vote with the Democrats is a vote AGAINST impeachment.”
She added after her resolution was sent to committee Monday night that she could force the impeachment vote again, predicting the eight Republicans who voted with Democrats will come under pressure from voters to flip their position.
“I can assure you that Republican voters will be extremely angry,” Greene said.
Mayorkas was once viewed as the conference’s top impeachment target. But that effort has been pushed out of the spotlight — and from most GOP lawmakers’ attention spans — by a sweeping investigation into President Joe Biden, not to mention a weeks-long speaker fight that ground the House to a halt.
The Homeland Security Committee is also months into its own border investigation, releasing “phase four” of its findings on Monday. Committee Chair Mark Green (R-Tenn.) has said he intends to complete his five-step investigation before making a decision on whether to make an impeachment referral to the Judiciary Committee. Green voted against sending the resolution to committee Monday night.
Democrats, and even some Republicans, have criticized the impeachment effort, arguing that the disagreements with Mayorkas amount to policy differences not high crimes or misdemeanors.
“Every day, the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security work tirelessly to keep America safe. They need Congress to stop wasting time and do its job by funding the government, reforming our broken immigration system, reauthorizing vital tools for DHS, and passing the Administration’s supplemental request to properly resource the Department’s critical work to stop fentanyl and further secure our borders,” a department spokesperson said Monday.
But unlike when Republicans easily referred to a resolution to impeach President Joe Biden to committee earlier this year, impeaching Mayorkas sparks division within the conference. Some of the Republicans who voted against sending the resolution to committee haven’t come out in support of impeaching Mayorkas, meaning there’s likely a larger pool of opposition within the GOP conference.
But Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas), from a border district, confirmed to POLITICO that he has been trying to build support for impeaching Mayorkas among moderate and swing-district Republicans.
“I am tired of Americans and migrants dying in my district,” he said.
Daniella Diaz contributed to this report.
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