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House GOP aims for Mayorkas impeachment after failed vote

House Republicans careened Tuesday evening toward another vote to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over his stewardship of the U.S. immigration system. If they succeeded, Mayorkas would be the first sitting Cabinet member in 150 years to receive such a censure amid loud Republican criticism of the Biden administration’s immigration policies.

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson’s team planned for a floor vote shortly after 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. But House GOP leadership was prepared to pull down the vote, as it remained unclear whether enough GOP lawmakers would appear in the chamber to pass the measure, according to a person familiar with the matter. As lawmakers were returning to Washington, a major snowstorm blanketing the Northeast might have disrupted travel for some.

Any GOP absence could imperil the outcome, depending on the number of Democrats who showed up for the vote. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) arrived in Washington on Tuesday, after missing the vote last week because of treatment for his blood cancer, telling reporters that while leaders were keeping a close eye on member attendance, they planned to move forward with the vote.

House Republicans hoped to pull off what they could not last week, when they fell one vote short of impeaching Mayorkas for what they allege is his gross mismanagement of the large influx of migrants at the southern border. Johnson (La.), however, could punt the vote if Republicans don’t have the numbers to succeed, setting up another embarrassing failure in less than a week in the House GOP’s quest to impeach the DHS secretary.

Last week, the promise of political retribution never materialized after Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.) left his hospital bed to cast his vote, leaving Republicans one vote shy of the majority needed to impeach Mayorkas.

At the time, Johnson, who has struggled to corral his razor-thin majority, called the failed vote a “setback.” If Tuesday’s vote is pushed later into the week, Johnson faces the possibility of a shrinking majority, pending the outcome Tuesday of a special election to replace ousted congressman George Santos (R-N.Y.) in a race where immigration has been a major issue.

Even if the measure passes, Mayorkas is unlikely to be convicted in a trial in the Democratic-led Senate, and amid skepticism from GOP lawmakers who have been critical of the lower chamber’s decision to proceed with articles of impeachment without compelling evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors. Some Republican senators have criticized the use of what was designed to be a rarely deployed constitutional instrument as a weapon in partisan warfare.

Republicans have homed in on the country’s immigration quagmire as a cudgel against President Biden in his reelection campaign. Polls show that Americans are dissatisfied with how the administration is handling the issue. But Democrats hope they’ve gained headway after former president Donald Trump lampooned a bipartisan immigration bill that paired border reforms with foreign aid to Israel and Ukraine, causing many Republicans in Congress to turn their backs on it. The Senate passed a stand-alone foreign aid package, but House Republicans are refusing to take it up because border reforms aren’t included.

As the proceedings against Mayorkas have progressed, opposition to the two articles of impeachment — “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and breach of the public trust — has grown louder. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) joined Reps. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) last week to vote down impeaching Mayorkas on the grounds that it would open a “Pandora’s box.”

Echoing the consensus among legal experts on both sides of the aisle, Gallagher argued in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that the “manifest incompetence” outlined in the first article of impeachment “doesn’t rise to the level of high crimes or misdemeanors.”

Some other conservative voices weighed in on the matter last week to offer support for Mayorkas, including the Fraternal Order of Police, and a bipartisan trio of former homeland security secretaries called on Johnson to pull down the vote.

Over the weekend, Mayorkas called the allegations against him “baseless” in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and he put the onus on Congress to address “a broken system” by legislating.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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