Top House Republicans are moving quickly to file charges against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorcas, as they strongly consider launching rare impeachment proceedings against a cabinet minister, a plan that could raise concerns among Republican moderates. strong opposition.
The chairmen of key committees are already preparing for hearings on the southern border, which Republicans say could be a prelude to an impeachment inquiry into Majorcas. Three House committees — Oversight, Homeland Security and the Judiciary — will soon hold hearings on the influx of immigrants and border security.
The House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the impeachment resolution, is ready to move forward with formal proceedings if the GOP conference appears to reach consensus, according to Republican sources directly familiar with the matter. The first impeachment resolution proposed by House Republicans has already gained support, including from members of the GOP leadership team.
A senior chairperson has voiced support for the move, suggesting that the idea of impeaching President Joe Biden’s cabinet secretary has moved from the fringe to the mainstream of the conference.
“If anyone is a leading candidate for impeachment in this town, it’s Majorkas,” Rep. James Comer, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, told CNN.
The impeachment of a cabinet secretary is extremely rare and has happened only once in American history – Secretary of War William Belknap was impeached by the House of Representatives and then acquitted by the Senate in 1876. However, that possibility is very real now that Kevin McCarthy, who is pushing for votes to win the speakership, is calling on Mayorkas to resign or face potential impeachment proceedings.
With no sign of Mayorkas stepping aside, House Republicans have said they are ready to move forward, even as one group of members is uncomfortable with the approach.
Indeed, McCarthy must balance his supporters’ demands for radical action against the concerns of more moderate members — many of whom hold seats in swing districts at the center of his slim majority . Some in safer seats haven’t sold on whether the GOP should go that route.
“Clearly, the southern border has been mismanaged,” Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-South Dakota, told CNN. “That’s not the threshold for impeachment in the Constitution — it’s high crimes and misdemeanors. … I want to look at the legal standard under the Constitution — and whether it’s been met.”
If he loses the support of more than four Republican votes on the impeachment resolution, the House effort will fail and could be a huge embarrassment for the GOP leadership. He has already lost one vote — Rep. Tony Gonzalez of Texas said he would oppose the effort — and several other members are far from convinced that charging Mayorkas with high crimes and misdemeanors is warranted, Even if they thought he had done a lackluster job helping secure the southern border.
“Was he totally dishonest with people? Yes. Did he fail miserably at his job? Yes,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., said of Mario. Yokas said. “Are those grounds for impeachment? I don’t know.”
Indeed, Republicans from swing districts are urging their colleagues not to rush toward impeachment, which is dead once it reaches the Senate and could turn off the American people if the party is seen as overreaching.
“The border is a disaster and a complete failure of the Biden administration. We should try to drive change through the power of our wallets first,” Rep. Don Bacon, who represents Biden’s winning district in Nebraska, told CNN. “Maybe after more oversight we’ll see what happens in Central America, but I don’t think independent, swing voters are interested in impeachment.”
Asked by CNN on Thursday whether he wanted the House to impeach Mayorkas, McCarthy declined to say. In an interview with Fox News over the weekend, McCarthy again called on Mayorkas to resign.
“We will never use impeachment as a political basis, but one thing I said before the election, I think he should resign based on his behavior on the border,” he said in an interview that aired Sunday.
In the first working week of their new majority, Republican Rep. Pete Fallon of Texas moved to impeach Majorkas over the southern border, while Rep. Andy Rep. Biggs has vowed to reintroduce the articles of impeachment with similar resolutions in the coming weeks, which could serve as a template for the final impeachment proceedings.
Fallon’s resolution called Mayorkas “undermining operational controls at our southern border and encouraging illegal immigration” and also claimed he lied to Congress that the border was secure.
Democrats said Republicans threatened to impeach Mayorkas for purely political reasons and said the policy dispute would hardly rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Mayorkas has testified before Congress several times since taking office, and his agency has said he is fully prepared to continue to abide by the oversight of the Republican-led House. So far, there have been no formal hearings or requests for testimony, and congressional committees are still trying to get off the ground, despite a flood of letters and reservation requests from Republicans last year conveying their plans for the majority.
In a statement, a Mayorkas spokeswoman made clear he had no plans to resign and called on Congress to come together to fix the nation’s immigration system.
“Secretary Mayorkas is proud to advance the Department’s noble mission, support its extraordinary workforce, and serve the American people. The Department will continue our work to enforce our laws and protect our border while establishing A safe, orderly and humane immigration system,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Members of Congress do a better job than blaming others; they should come to the table and create solutions to our broken system and outdated laws that they haven’t updated in over 40 years.”
However, there are signs that House Republicans are gaining momentum.
Fallon’s resolution was backed by several Republicans who had previously delayed calls for impeachment, including Texas Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a member of the Homeland Security Committee, and Oklahoma Rep. Stephanie Biss, a new member of the GOP leadership team – signaling the idea isn’t limited to the fringes of the party.
Until this Congress, Fallon had not supported the impeachment of Mayorkas. Fallon said he introduced the impeachment articles to help “roll,” but still thinks it’s key to show the American public why they think Majorkas should be removed from office.
“It’s important, it’s an emergency, you need to break the glass, you really need to pick it up, and then we’re going to have an additional investigation,” Fallon told CNN. “While that’s why I’m filing these articles, you can always sit on them and not do anything about them. That’s where we’re going to give Mayorkas the opportunity to defend himself and his department.”
Meanwhile, the chairmen of the main committee have vowed to hold hearings on the crisis at the southern border and have plans ready to call officials for interviews. Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who leads the powerful House Judiciary Committee where the impeachment articles will originate, said the issue will be one of the first hearings as his panel is up and running.
Republican leaders realize they can only afford to lose four Republicans in any given vote, and want to build a sweeping impeachment case that will unite the entire party. But the pressure is already mounting on McCarthy, who has drummed up members of his right for the speaker’s gavel — even giving them a powerful tool to call him out if he doesn’t listen to their demands.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), one of the key negotiators in the impasse over McCarthy’s speech and the first to call for Majorkas’ impeachment, told CNN: “I’ve always said publicly that I believe he violated his oath, that he undermined our ability to defend our country.”
The main committees involved in the case against Mayorkas are all chaired by members of the hardline House Freedom Caucus: Jordan and Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, the newly elected leader of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Part of Green’s focus as chairman is how he will hold the Biden administration accountable on the southern border. Green told CNN he has a “five-phase plan” to delve into the issue.
“If it turns out (impeachment) is necessary, we’re going to turn it over to the judiciary,” Green said. “We’re going to play a fact-finding role.”
There has also been talk of in-person hearings at the southern border, while Republicans plan to keep visiting there, as they did in the previous Congress.
Jordan told reporters that the border issue will likely be one of his first hearings as chairman of the Judiciary Committee.But a source close to Jordan, who has become a close McCarthy ally, warned they would not move forward with impeachment unless the party fully agreed
Clearly, House Republicans have yet to agree on the issue.
Freshman Rep. Mike Lawler, who represents Biden’s winning district in New York, told CNN shortly before being sworn in: “I think the immediate priority is to deal with inflation and the cost of living. … I don’t want to see us in Trump What we saw during the Trump administration, the Democrats just kept following the president and the administration.
But some Republicans in Biden’s district are already backing the article on Mayorkas’ impeachment, a sign that politics may be moving in a Republican direction.
Freshman Rep. Nick Longworthy, another New York Republican, is one of 26 co-sponsors so far who have signed the articles of impeachment against Fallon.
Another New York Republican freshman in a swing district, Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, also expressed support for Mayorkas’ impeachment.
D’Esposito argued that many CBP agents are tired of leadership at the top.
“They will tell you straight up that Minister Mayorkas failed (fulfilled) his oath, he failed to defend our homeland,” he added.
Rep. Nancy Mays of South Carolina, also a Republican from a swing district, said Majorkas needed to step down.
“When you raise your hand and pledge to protect our nation’s borders, if you willfully and willfully ignore that work, you deserve to lose it,” Mays said, referring to the influx of drugs at the southern border. “In any case, Minister Mayorkas must leave.”
House Republicans, long eager to impeach Mayorkas, have been trying to put pressure on their leadership, calling a news conference last month and urging McCarthy to be more explicit about his role in the impeachment before voting for McCarthy as speaker. position on the issue.
McCarthy traveled to the southern border shortly after the November election, where he called on Mayorkas to resign and threatened a possible impeachment inquiry against him, though he made no clear commitment that he would go that route.
But even if the impeachment resolution passes the House, winning a two-thirds majority in the Senate would have little chance of convicting Mayorkas. Some Senate Republicans, such as Senate Republican Whip John Thune of South Dakota, were noncommittal in supporting the move. Democrats are dismissing the idea across the board.
“A very constructive action,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, said sarcastically when asked about the impeachment talk.
Coons was quick to add: “I think that would be a huge waste of time.”