WASHINGTON ― Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday approved two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — an entirely baseless effort aimed at helping Donald Trump look tough on border issues ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
The committee voted 18 to 15, along party lines, to approve the GOP’s impeachment resolution, which accuses Mayorkas of “willful” refusal to comply with immigration laws and breaching public trust. The full House could vote as soon as next week to impeach him.
The hearing, which dragged on for 15 hours, was a political stunt. The standard for impeachment, per the Constitution, is committing “high crimes and misdemeanors” like treason or bribery. Mayorkas, a cabinet secretary charged with carrying out current immigration policy, has not been accused of any such crimes.
“The Constitution is very specific,” said Rep. Seth Magaziner (D-R.I.). “The grounds for impeachment are treason, bribery or other high crimes or misdemeanors. There is no treason alleged or mentioned in these articles. There is no bribery alleged or mentioned in these articles. And no high crimes or misdemeanors, either.”
So what did lawmakers do for hours? Democrats mocked the hearing as “a sham” and laid out why there is no legal basis for impeaching Mayorkas. Republicans responded by highlighting problems at the border, quoting Thomas Jefferson and Supreme Court justices from the 1800s, and somehow concluding that Mayorkas deserves to be impeached.
“We’re here today not because we want to be, but because we have exhausted all other options,” Chairman Mark Green (R-Tenn.) said solemnly at the start of the hearing.
“There’s another saying that appropriately describes what’s going on here: Just shoveling the same old s**t and calling it sugar,” Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) later countered. “That’s not what the American people want us to do.”
The GOP’s effort to impeach Mayorkas isn’t even about him. For months, Republicans have been screaming about border security and trying to blame President Joe Biden for a surge in migration at the U.S.-Mexico border. Unauthorized border crossings have hit historic highs in recent months. Last month, in the span of five days, U.S. Border Patrol agents processed nearly 50,000 migrants who entered the U.S. illegally, per a CBS report.
Republicans seemed to settle months ago on immigration as a top talking point for the 2024 election, viewing it as an issue they can regularly use to hurt Biden and help Trump, their party’s presumptive presidential nominee.
But their plan hit a snag last week. A group of senators announced they reached a long-awaited bipartisan deal to address border security — the very thing Republicans have been calling for ― and Trump promptly ordered the GOP not to pass any bipartisan border bills in 2024 because it would give Biden a win.
Caught between their fear of crossing Trump and looking weak on the same border issues they’ve vowed to address, House Republicans are now trying to pin border problems on the Homeland Security secretary.
Apparently missing the irony of what he was saying, Rep. Josh Brecheen (R-Okla.) referenced John Adams’ declaration that America “ought to be a government of law, not of men,” in his attempt to justify impeaching Mayorkas without any legal basis for doing so.
“That Alanis Morissette song in my youth is coming up. Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?” Brecheen asked the committee, suggesting Mayorkas isn’t following laws. “This is about the rule of law in this country.”
“Just shoveling the same old s**t and calling it sugar.”
Democrats pointed out that it is Congress’ job to change border laws ― not Mayorkas’ and not the executive branch’s ― by passing legislation that provides funding for doing so.
“It’s funny that members of Congress would want to focus on the law, given that our job is to write the laws that interpret the Constitution, and implement and pass laws,” said Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.).
He said the “real reason” for the hearing was to help Trump make the case for his hardline positions on immigration, like his vow to impose mass deportations, ahead of November.
“He said it himself,” Goldman said of Trump. “Last week, numerous Republicans echoed his call. ‘Why would we actually solve the problems at the border when it is such a good political message to use for the election?’”
He was referring to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last week telling his caucus they are now in “a quandary” on addressing border security after Trump ordered them not to pass any bipartisan bills on immigration.
Regardless of when the full House votes to impeach Mayorkas, it’s clear the GOP’s efforts will go nowhere in the Democrat-led Senate. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told HuffPost as much Tuesday.
“It’s a waste of time,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) ripped House Republicans’ “sham” impeachment effort on Wednesday morning.
“While senators on both sides of the aisle are actually negotiating in good faith on border security, House Republicans keep exploiting the border only for political gain, only to help Donald Trump on the campaign trail, instead of working to solve the problem,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.
“There have already been many shameful and embarrassing moments in this Republican House majority,” he said, “but abusing the Constitution by pursuing this sham impeachment effort is a new, ignominious low.”
Igor Bobic contributed reporting.