WASHINGTON — The House is holding a test vote Monday on whether to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, a step usually reserved for grave misconduct in office that is instead being wielded in an extraordinary effort to remove the Cabinet secretary for his handling of the southern border.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a hard-right Republican from Georgia, forced a vote on impeaching Mayorkas floor through a rule that allows any single member to force a snap vote on resolutions, including constitutional matters such as impeachment.
Democrats have sought to bottle the matter up through a vote on Monday evening that would “table” or kill the impeachment resolution, but the outcome is uncertain. Several prominent Republicans have become outspoken advocates of pushing ahead on the GOP’s longstanding effort to impeach Mayorkas. House GOP whip Tom Emmer, the No. 3 House Republican, as well as Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Texas Republican whose congressional district runs along the border with Mexico, have voiced support for Greene’s resolution.
Accusations Against Mayorkas
Greene in a floor speech Monday accused Mayorkas of a “pattern of conduct that is incompatible with the laws of the United States,” as she cited record numbers of illegal border crossings, an influx of drugs and his “open border policies.” The impeachment resolution accuses him of failing to adhere to his oath to “defend and secure our country and uphold the Constitution.”
Impeaching a Cabinet official for their policy decisions would be unprecedented. But House Republicans have shown increasing willingness to reach to Congress’ most grave weapons and redefine what the Constitution means by impeachable “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
During congressional testimony, Mayorkas has insisted that he is focused on securing the border and enforcing the law.
“While the House Majority has wasted months trying to score points with baseless attacks, Secretary Mayorkas has been doing his job and working to keep Americans safe,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement.
Controversy Over Greene’s Resolution
Greene’s resolution also calls the influx of migrants an “invasion.” Immigration advocates denounced her use of the term, saying it showed she was acting based on the racist “great replacement theory,” which purports that there is a plot to diminish the influence of white people in society.
“Rep. Greene’s impeachment articles are a dangerous and racist political stunt and should be voted down by all of her colleagues in the House, regardless of their opinions on the policy actions of the Biden administration,” said Vanessa Cárdenas, executive director of America’s Voice, in a statement.
Republicans have closely scrutinized the Biden administration’s handling of the border with Mexico for months and sought to build an impeachment case against Mayorkas. But Greene voiced frustration with the progress of those inquiries and pointed to a car crash in Texas that killed eight people after a driver suspected of smuggling people tried to flee the police and crashed into another vehicle.
Impact on House Speaker Mike Johnson
The renewed push to impeach Mayorkas is yet another headache for new House Speaker Mike Johnson, who is already juggling both a potential impeachment vote and delicate negotiations over government funding legislation to avert a federal shutdown at the end of the week.
Johnson earlier this month said in a Fox News interview that he believed Mayorkas has committed “impeachable offenses,” but also warned that the House has “limited time and resources.” The speaker, who is just three weeks into his job, has also been supportive of an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.
Only one U.S. cabinet official has ever been impeached: Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876. A House investigation found evidence that he had received kickback payments while administering government contracts.