Second attempt to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas passes

Alejandro Mayorkas

WASHINGTON — A second vote to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas passed in the House on Tuesday, moving Congress a step closer to the first ouster of a sitting Cabinet member.

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HR 863 passed by a 214-213 vote.

House Republicans charged in two articles of impeachment that Mayorkas, 64, had willfully refused to enforce laws at the southern borders of the United States and breached the public trust, The New York Times reported.

The measure now goes to the Senate, where Mayorkas is unlikely to be convicted in a trial in the Democratic-led upper chamber of Congress.

In a statement, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La, said that “Alejandro Mayorkas deserves to be impeached, and Congress has a constitutional obligation to do so,” the Times reported.

“Next to a declaration of war, impeachment is arguably the most serious authority given to the House, and we have treated this matter accordingly,” Johnson said.

President Joe Biden criticized the result of the vote in a statement.

“History will not look kindly on House Republicans for their blatant act of unconstitutional partisanship that has targeted an honorable public servant in order to play petty political games,” the president said. “Instead of staging political stunts like this, Republicans with genuine concerns about the border should want Congress to deliver more border resources and stronger border security.”

The House’s first attempt to impeach Mayorkas on Feb. 6 fell short by two votes, 214-216. Republicans Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Ken Buck of Colorado and Tom McClintock of California voted against impeaching Mayorkas because it would open a “Pandora’s box,” The Washington Post reported.

The same three Republican representatives joined Democrats again on Tuesday to vote against the measure, according to CNN.

Buck told CNN that the vote was the “wrong thing for the speaker to do.”

“The speaker needs to be above the fray,” Buck said. “That didn’t happen.”

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., told reporters that the impeachment vote was important to secure the border, the Times reported.

The vote “sends a message that we’re not just going to sit by while the secretary of Homeland Security fails to do his job.”

Scalise missed last week’s vote due to treatment he was receiving for his blood cancer, the Post reported.

House Democrats have criticized the impeachment effort as an attempt to resolve a policy dispute with constitutional punishment, the Times reported.

The only Cabinet member in U.S. history to be impeached was William Belknap, the secretary of war for President Ulysses S. Grant, in May 1876. While Belknap had resigned his post over corruption two months earlier, the House nevertheless issued five articles of impeachment.

Belknap was accused of financing an extravagant lifestyle in Washington over a five-year period. He was accused of accepting kickbacks from entrepreneur Caleb Marsh to choose one of the man’s associates to operate a lucrative trading post at Fort Sill in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).

On August 1, 1876, a majority of senators voted to convict Belknap on all five counts, but each fell short of the necessary two-thirds required for removal.

Belknap was never prosecuted further and died in 1890.

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