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Republicans Hate Mayorkas, But They Couldn’t Impeach Him

The House GOP’s quest to impeach Biden’s homeland security secretary ended in failure.

Mayorkas Interview AP-24033625784037
House Republicans didn’t have the votes to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Veronica G. Cardenas/AP

The vote to impeach Alejandro Mayorkas failed on Tuesday, showing once again that House Republican leadership is struggling to hold together its tiny majority.

The vote appeared doomed when two House Republicans, Ken Buck and Tom McClintock, publicly stated that they would vote no on impeaching Mayorkas. A third Republican, Mike Gallagher, reportedly questioned the precedent it would set during the Republican caucus meeting Tuesday morning. All three went on to vote with Democrats against impeachment.

With Majority Leader Steve Scalise already out of the office due to his health, House Republicans could not afford the defections. All Democrats voted against impeachment — Rep. Al Green even showed up unexpectedly in a wheelchair following a surgery wearing what appeared to be hospital scrub pants and no shoes.

Rep. Blake Moore, the House Republican vice chair, switched from a “yes” to a “no” just before the vote closed for procedural reasons, bringing the final tally to 214-216.

The Republicans who back impeachment argue that Mayorkas’ handling of the border has been a failure — and Buck and McClintock agree. Buck wrote in a Monday op-ed that Mayorkas “has completely failed at his job” and “is an embarrassment.”

But Buck believes that being terrible at the job does not meet the constitutional standards for impeachment and that it could open the door for more impeachments down the line. “I can envision a future Republican administration where a Democrat-led House uses this precedent to act against a Republican Cabinet member who isn’t discharging their duties in a way that Democrats desire,” Buck wrote.

McClintock released a 10-page memo on Tuesday morning stating that the Homeland Security Committee failed to “identify an impeachable crime that Mayorkas committed.” He argued impeachment would be bad policy and bad politics because it “would taint with partisanship what would otherwise be overwhelming national opposition to the Democrats’ open borders policy.”

“It is bad policy because it strengthens a dangerous constitutional precedent that Democrats will surely use against conservatives on the Supreme Court and a future Republican administration the moment they have an opportunity,” McClintock wrote.

Some Republicans were furious about the “no” votes from within their own party. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said to reporters after Republicans met Tuesday morning that McClintock was “not paying attention to the American people.”

“He’s failing his oath of office,” she said. “He needs to grow some courage and read the room. The room is our country.”

Speaker Mike Johnson was more diplomatic, saying Gallagher, McClintock and others “have been very thoughtful and deliberate about this heavy decision.”

“We had some very thoughtful, intellectual discussion with those two gentlemen this morning,” Johnson said at a press conference Tuesday. “I respect everybody’s view on it and I understand the heavy weight that impeachment is…. I respect the conscience of everyone and how they vote.”

Gallagher explained his reasoning in a statement after the vote.

“The proponents of impeachment failed to make the argument as to how [Mayorkas’] stunning incompetence meets the impeachment threshold Republicans outlined while defending President Trump,” Gallagher said.

But impeachment could come up again, Greene insisted to reporters after the vote.

“This is not over yet,” she said, indicating there could be another vote as early as next week.

“My colleagues that voted no, I think they’ll be hearing from their constituents.”

Ryan Hernández and Casey Murray are NOTUS reporters and Allbritton Journalism Institute fellows.