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Senate votes to dismiss impeachment charges against Mayorkas

The Senate voted Wednesday to dismiss two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, which allege he mismanaged an influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Both votes were along party lines.

The impeachment trial came to a close a little more than three hours after it started, following a GOP senator’s move to quickly quash an offer for limited debate and the creation of an impeachment committee, marking a rapid close to the first impeachment of a sitting Cabinet secretary.

A spokesperson for Mayorkas released a statement highlighting the dismissal of the charges as further indication that “there was no evidence or Constitutional grounds to justify impeachment.”

Senators, voting 51 to 48 along party lines, found the first article charging Mayorkas with “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” to be unconstitutional. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted present.

Senators voted again along party lines — 51 to 49 — to find the second article charging Mayorkas with “breach of public trust” also to be unconstitutional. This time, Murkowski sided with her party. The trial came to a conclusion before the House impeachment managers could present their arguments.

After the trial ended, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) scolded his Democratic colleagues for setting a “very unfortunate precedent” by not following the directions of the House. “This is a day that’s not a proud day in the history of the Senate,” McConnell said to applause from other Republicans.

Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) retorted that Democrats were obligated to set a precedent that impeachment “never be used to settle policy disagreements.”

Shortly after opening the trial, Schumer offered Republicans a period of debate time and the opportunity to form a committee on the matter — a move that was sharply rejected by Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.). Schumer swiftly responded with a point of order to declare the first article unconstitutional, prompting the first of several procedural objections by Republicans that followed.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) called for a closed session. Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) motioned to adjourn the Senate until April 30. And McConnell called to reject the point of order made by Schumer. Each objection made by Republicans, who are in a relatively powerless position in the minority, failed.

Some senators appeared bored at their small desks as Republicans made one procedural point after another, forcing a series of unsuccessful votes to delay the trial and other matters. At times, Republicans attempted to deliver extended remarks on the Senate floor, blaming Mayorkas and Democrats for the record-breaking levels of migration at the southern U.S. border.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) repeatedly interceded as her GOP colleagues tried to make their points of order into political statements, interrupting Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) as he described the border crisis in a lengthy introduction to another failed procedural vote.

Two House impeachment managers, who watched the proceedings from the back row, filed out of the chamber before senators were done tossing out the second impeachment charge. Republicans argued that the body had set a precedent that the Senate can effectively ignore a House impeachment vote.

After indicating last week that he planned to vote with Democrats to dismiss the trial, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) ultimately voted with Republicans in what may have been the trial’s only minor surprise.

In a statement issued after the trial closed, Romney said that while he did not believe the charges against Mayorkas met the Constitution’s bar for impeachment, he “voted against the Schumer points of order because it was important to engage in some level of debate.”

“It was a mistake for Senate Democrats to set a new precedent of disposing of the Articles of Impeachment without any evaluation whatsoever,” Romney added.

Even the most politically vulnerable Democrats held the party line, voting unanimously to reject both charges and bring the trial to a close amid criticisms that House Republicans were abusing a constitutional tool to settle what amounted to policy differences.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a vulnerable lawmaker up for reelection in a red state key to the GOP’s plan to win control of the upper chamber, ultimately voted with his party to dismiss the charges. But he called on the Biden administration to “do more to keep Montana and our country safe” in a post-trial statement.

“Montanans want real solutions that secure the border, not partisan games from D.C. politicians,” Tester said. “I agree with my Republican colleagues who have said this exercise is a distraction that fails to make our country safer.”

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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