By Lisa Mascaro | Associated Press
WASHINGTON — After failing to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday, but it’s not at all clear whether the do-over vote will produce a better outcome after the politically embarrassing setback last week.
The evening vote is expected to be close, with President Mike Johnson’s threadbare Republican majority unable to handle many defectors or absences in the face of fierce Democratic opposition to the impeachment of Mayorkas, the first indicted cabinet secretary in nearly 150 years .
Despite the expected arrival of Majority Leader Steve Scalise, who will bolster the GOP’s numbers after being away from Washington for cancer care, even another missing or weather-delayed lawmaker could jeopardize Mayorka’s impeachment . If voting continues later in the week, the outcome of Tuesday’s special election in New York to replace ousted Rep. George Santos could still tip the scales.
Johnson posted a photo of clenched fists with Scalise, announcing his cancer remission, saying, “I can’t wait to see him in the trenches this week!”
GOP efforts to impeach Mayorkas over border security have taken on an air of political desperation as Republicans try to stick to their priorities after last week’s incident and after Republicans rejected a bipartisan security package of the boundaries of the Senate.
Border security has become a campaign priority, with Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner for the presidential nomination, insisting he would launch “the largest domestic deportation operation in American history.” » from day one if he takes over the White House.
In harsh language this weekend, Trump downgraded immigrant arrivals. even going so far as to suggest without evidence that they are bringing diseases into the United States. Trump reiterated plans for a second-term sweep aimed at potentially expelling millions of new arrivals from the United States, a sight virtually unheard of in modern times.
“We have no choice,” Trump said at a rally in South Carolina.
The House, which launched an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden over his son’s business dealings, instead turned its attention to Mayorkas after Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Trump ally, moved the debate forward .
If the House succeeds in impeaching Mayorkas, the charges against him would be brought to the Senate for trial, but neither Democratic nor Republican senators have expressed interest in the matter and the matter could be referred to a committee indefinitely.
After a months-long investigation, the House Homeland Security Committee filed two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas – arguing that he “willfully and systematically” refused to enforce immigration laws in force and that he had betrayed the public trust by lying to Congress and claiming the border was closed. secure.
Never before has a sitting cabinet secretary been impeached, and nearly 150 years ago, the House voted to impeach President Ulysses S. Grant’s secretary of war, William Belknap, over a bribery scheme. -wine in government contracts. He resigned moments before the vote.
Mayorkas, who did not appear to testify before the impeachment proceedings, blamed the border crisis on Congress, which has failed to update immigration laws at a time of global migration.
“There is no doubt that we are facing a challenge, a crisis at the border,” Mayorkas said this weekend on NBC. “And there’s no question that Congress needs to do something about it.” »
Johnson and Republicans responded, arguing that the Biden administration could take executive action, as Trump did, to stop the number of border crossings — although courts have questioned and reversed some of those efforts .
“We are still exploring options available to us that are permitted by law,” Mayorkas said in the interview.
The failure of last week’s vote to impeach Mayorkas — a surprise result rarely seen on such a high-profile issue — was a stunning display in the chamber that has weathered months of GOP chaos since the previous president’s ouster from the Bedroom.
As time ticked down, three Republicans objected to Mayorkas’ impeachment, leaving the count on a knife’s edge. With a majority of 219 votes to 212 and Scalise absent, Johnson had only a few votes left.
One Democrat, Rep. Al Green of Texas, who had been hospitalized for emergency abdominal surgery, made a surprise arrival and entered the room in scrubs and socks to vote against it, leaving the vote tied.
One of the Republican holdouts, Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, who served as a Marine and is now committee chairman, was quickly surrounded by his colleagues, including the impeachment’s lead sponsor, Greene of Georgia. He refused to change his vote.
Gallagher announced this weekend that he would not seek re-election in the fall. Once a rising star of the GOP’s next generation, he now joins a growing list of serious Republican lawmakers heading for the exit.
Republicans hope the special election in New York will further strengthen their ranks, but the outcome of this race is uncertain.
Democrat Green of Texas is now out of the hospital and recovering from surgery, and was stunned by how critics suggested he sneaked into the Capitol to vote. He described the struggle to get from his hospital bed to the upper floor of the house.
“Obviously you feel good when you can make a difference,” Green said. “Everything I have done is what I was elected to do, which is to vote on the issues of our time, using the best judgment I have. »
He plans to return this week to vote against Mayorkas’ impeachment.
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