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House impeaches Alejandro Mayorkas in historic vote, punishing DHS chief over handling of U.S.-Mexico border – CBS News


By Caitlin Yilek

/ CBS News

Washington — The House voted to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday over his handling of the U.S.-Mexico border, with Republicans issuing the chamber’s harshest constitutional punishment against a Cabinet secretary for just the second time in U.S. history.

The vote on two articles of impeachment was 214 in favor to 213 opposed, with three Republicans voting with all Democrats against impeachment. Two Republicans and two Democrats were absent.

The effort is all but certain to crash in the Senate, where Democrats have control and a two-thirds majority would be needed to convict and remove him from office. 

“Without a shred of evidence or legitimate Constitutional grounds, and despite bipartisan opposition, House Republicans have falsely smeared a dedicated public servant who has spent more than 20 years enforcing our laws and serving our country,” Mia Ehrenberg, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, said in statement. “Secretary Mayorkas and the Department of Homeland Security will continue working every day to keep Americans safe.”

In a statement, President Biden called the impeachment a “blatant act of unconstitutional partisanship that has targeted an honorable public servant in order to play petty political games.” 

The successful vote follows an embarrassing defeat for Republican leaders last week, when a small group of Republicans who said Mr. Biden’s border chief did not commit impeachable offenses 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 Republican returned to work this week, giving them another vote. 

The vote comes the same day as a special election in New York’s third congressional district to replace former GOP Rep. George Santos, which could further narrow the House’s Republican majority. The possibility of Democrats picking up the swing seat put pressure on Republicans to move quickly with another vote. 

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 unveiled two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas after speeding through impeachment proceedings

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 was unexpectedly wheeled onto the floor in 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.  

House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, told reporters Tuesday he is not concerned about setting a precedent by impeaching Mayorkas, saying it “is an exceptional case in U.S. history.” 

“The House has a constitutional responsibility, as I’ve said many times, probably the heaviest next to a declaration of war, and we have to do our job regardless of what the other chamber does,” Johnson said. 

Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the top Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, urged the Senate to reject the impeachment. 

“History will judge what Republicans did tonight, and it won’t be favorably. They threw the integrity of the House, the Constitution, as well as any glimmer of hope of working together, under the bus,” he said in a statement. 

Ellis Kim and Patrick Maguire contributed reporting. 

Caitlin Yilek

Caitlin Yilek is a politics reporter at and is based in Washington, D.C. She previously worked for the Washington Examiner and The Hill, and was a member of the 2022 Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellowship with the National Press Foundation.


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