In its second vote attempt in exactly a week, the U.S. House on Tuesday night impeached Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who becomes the first sitting cabinet member to be impeached in U.S. history.
Mayorkas was impeached largely along party lines by a vote of 214-213, with three Republicans voting with 210 Democrats against.
As more than 10 million illegal border crossers entered the country in three years and a record number of known or suspected terrorists have been apprehended under Mayorkas’ watch, House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green, MD, R-Tenn., led the charge to impeach him.
Green filed the resolution to impeach Mayorkas on two counts alleging high crimes and misdemeanors, after holding over a dozen hearings and releasing multiple reports detailing how Republicans contend he was derelict in duty and created a national security crisis.
Article 1 states Mayorkas violated his oath “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, to bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and to well and faithfully discharge the duties of his office, has willfully and systemically refused to comply with Federal immigration laws.”
Article 2 states he violated his oath “to well and faithfully discharge the duties” because he “knowingly made false statements, and knowingly obstructed lawful oversight of the Department of Homeland Security of his office.”
“Congress has taken decisive action to defend our constitutional order and hold accountable a public official who has violated his oath of office," Green said after Tuesday's vote. "The House Committee on Homeland Security’s investigation and subsequent impeachment proceedings demonstrated beyond any doubt that Secretary Mayorkas has willfully and systemically refused to comply with the laws of the United States and breached the public trust. As a result, our country has suffered from an unprecedented border crisis that has turned every state into a border state, causing untold suffering in communities across our country.”
Green also urged the Senate “to do the right thing and remove Secretary Mayorkas from office following a thorough trial.”
U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, countere: "This baseless impeachment will do nothing to secure the border – Republicans have admitted as much. Instead of providing the Department of Homeland Security the resources it needs or working together towards a bipartisan solution, they have rejected any solution for the sole reason that they can have a political wedge issue in an election year."
The Democratic-led Senate is expected to acquit Mayorkas. Democrats have argued Mayorkas’ failures do not constitute high crimes and misdemeanors, calling it a sham and political ploy.
House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, said, “For nearly a year the House Homeland Security Committee has taken a careful and methodical approach to this investigation and the results are clear: from his first day in office Secretary Mayorkas has willfully and consistently refused to comply with federal immigration laws fueling the worst border catastrophe in American history. He has undermined public trust through multiple false statements to Congress, obstructed lawful oversight of the Department of Homeland security, and violated his oath of office.
“Alejandro Mayorkas deserves to be impeached and Congress has a constitutional obligation to do so. Next to a declaration of war, impeachment is arguably the most serious authority given to the House and we have treated this matter accordingly. Since the secretary refuses to do the job that the Senate confirmed him to do, the House must act.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Mayorkas' impeachment trial will begin this month.
“The House impeachment managers will present the articles of impeachment to the Senate following the state work period. Senators will be sworn in as jurors in the trial the next day. Senate President Pro Tempore Patty Murray will preside,” Schumer said Tuesday night.
The first attempt to impeach Mayorkas failed last week after three Republicans voted with Democrats: U.S. Reps. Tom McClintock of California, Ken Buck of Colorado, and Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin. Gallagher has since said he is not running for reelection.
After missing last week’s vote, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, who is battling cancer, returned to Washington, D.C. With his vote, the House was able to impeach despite four members being absent. Two Florida Republicans, Reps. Brian Mast and Maria Elvira Salazar, and two Democrats, Reps. Lois Frankel (Florida) and Judy Chu (California), were not present to vote.
Chu said she tested positive for COVID-19 and would have voted against impeachment. Mast said he and Frankel were stuck at the Palm Beach International Airport. Salazar has not yet released a statement about her absence.
Johnson has appointed impeachment managers including Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyoming. After the vote, Hageman said, “Mayorkas willfully disregarded his oath to uphold our laws and repeatedly lied to Congress about his role in the border crisis and censorship of US citizens – the House held him accountable. As an impeachment manager, I will help make this case to the Senate.”