House Republicans much hyped effort to impeach Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas failed in dramatic fashion on Tuesday delivering an embarrassing political setback for the embattled majority.
The effort to impeach Mayorkas failed in an 214-216 vote. Republican Reps. Ken Buck (Colo.), Tom McClintock (Calif.) and Mike Gallagher (Wi.) sided with Democrats to vote against the measure.
The tally was tied at 215-215 for several minutes as Republicans try to convince Gallagher to change his vote.
Their efforts failed and a fourth Republican, Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah), the vice chair of the conference, changed his vote to “no”, a procedural step that will let Republicans revive their impeachment effort at a later date.
The vote failed mainly because Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) showed up unexpectedly to oppose the resolution and Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) is out undergoing treatment for blood cancer.
Republicans have said they will bring the effort back for a vote when Scalise returns.
Nevertheless, Tuesday’s outcome is an embarrassing failure for House Republicans who are being pressured by Donald Trump and their base to basically impeach a member of Biden’s cabinet or the President himself.
Republicans’ Mayorkas impeachment articles accused the DHS secretary of “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and a “breach of public trust”.
However, they are facing pushback even from conservative legal experts who argue that Mayorkas’ conduct does not rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors which would warrant his removal from office.
“I don’t think they’ve established any of these basis for impeachment,” constitutional law expert and Republicans go-to impeachment witness Jonathan Turley said. “The fact is, impeachment is not for being a bad cabinet member or even for being a bad person. It is a very narrow standard.”
Impeachment of a cabinet official is rare. Only one has ever been impeached in American history and that was the Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876.