GOP Reps. Mike Gallagher, Tom McClintock, and Ken Buck
The House failed to impeach Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.House Republicans had little room for error given their narrow majority.The GOP does have the ability to return to the issue at a later date.
House Republicans failed on Tuesday evening to impeach Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, a stunning setback for House Speaker Mike Johnson and another example of the chaos surrounding his chamber.
Four Republicans joined all House Democrats in voting down what would have been the first impeachment of a Cabinet official in nearly 150 years. The final vote was 214 to 216.
Reps. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Ken Buck of Colorado, and Tom McClintock of California all voted against the impeachment. Rep. Blake Moore of Utah switched his vote at the last minute to “no” so that the chamber can bring it up again. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise missed the vote. He has been away from Washington for treatment for multiple myeloma. It is unclear if or when the GOP will return to the topic.
Republicans were set to have a narrow majority after the 2022 midterms, but the GOP has narrowed its power even further. Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy resigned from Congress after his ouster. In a historic move, the House also voted to expel Rep. George Santos of New York.
“Miss me yet?” Santos wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, with an apparent picture of the vote when both sides were tied.
Gallagher’s opposition is particularly notable given that he leads the House’s select committee focused on China, a high-profile post in the Capitol. Gallagher has been considered a rising star in his party and was wooed for a potential US Senate bid this November.
Two of the other Republicans who opposed impeachment, Reps. Ken Buck of Colorado and Tom McClintock of California had long questioned the case against Mayorkas, especially whether the two articles against him met the constitutional bar for impeachment. McClintock has also repeatedly warned that impeaching Mayorkas would establish a troubling precedent that could be abused by future Congresses by essentially saying an official could be impeached if they are viewed as being bad at their job.
Mayorkas’ impeachment was not expected to go anywhere. Democrats and lawmakers aligned with the party narrowly control the Senate, making it tough for any impeachment to clear the high bar of 67 votes needed to convict. But senators from both parties have repeatedly made clear that they have a particular ire reserved for Mayorkas’ impeachment.
“What’s rich to me is the speaker says the [border] bill in the Senate is… dead on arrival,” Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican, told reporters, per Huff Post. “And then they proceed impeaching a cabinet secretary, which is obviously dead on arrival.”
Last month, Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, sounded similar to Buck and McClintock in questioning the case against Mayorkas.
“I haven’t seen the Constitutional standard met yet,” Romney told Axios. “We’ll see what they find in their investigation.”
Before Tuesday’s vote, McClintock issued a scathing 10-page letter to his colleagues denouncing their impeachment push. In a speech on the House floor, he went so far as to say, “stunts like this don’t help.”
“[T]aking the course outlined by the [Homeland Security Committee] is bad politics and bad policy,” McClintock wrote in his letter. “It is bad politics because it taints with partisanship what would otherwise be overwhelming national opposition to Democrats’ open borders policy. It is bad policy because it strengthens a dangerous constitutional precedent the Democrats will surely use against conservatives on the Supreme Court and a future Republican administration the moment they have that opportunity.”