House Republicans impeach Mayorkas in historic vote as Biden slams "petty games"

Washington DC - House Republicans impeached US President Joe Biden's Homeland Security secretary on Tuesday, the culmination of months of attacks on the Democratic administration as they seek to make border security a key issue in November's election.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was impeached by House Republicans on Tuesday.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was impeached by House Republicans on Tuesday.  © Collage: REUTERS

Alejandro Mayorkas is being blamed for an increase in migrant entries from Mexico that Republicans have called a "humanitarian catastrophe."

Lawmakers passed two articles accusing him of "willful and systemic refusal" to enforce immigration law and "breach of public trust" – making him the first Cabinet secretary to be impeached in nearly 150 years.

It was Republican leaders' second swing at Mayorkas after they botched a first impeachment effort last week by wrongly anticipating how many lawmakers would be present on each side and losing by just one vote.

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Tuesday's re-run was just as close, but the return of Republican House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, who had been receiving cancer treatment, swung the chamber the other way in a 214-213 vote.

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

"Since this secretary refuses to do the job that the Senate confirmed him to do, the House must act."

Biden responds to "blatant act" and accuses GOP of playing politics

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (c.) returned from cancer treatment to swing the impeachment vote 214-213 in favor of Republicans.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (c.) returned from cancer treatment to swing the impeachment vote 214-213 in favor of Republicans.  © REUTERS

Biden immediately rebuked Republicans for what he termed a "blatant act of unconstitutional partisanship that has targeted an honorable public servant in order to play petty political games."

"We will continue pursuing real solutions to the challenges Americans face, and House Republicans have to decide whether to join us to solve the problem or keep playing politics with the border," he added.

The outcome was unprecedented, as the House has only ever impeached one other cabinet official – Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876 – and that was over serious allegations of corruption rather than a straightforward policy disagreement.

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Still, Mayorkas is certain to be acquitted at his trial in the Democratic-led Senate – if it even comes to that, since the articles of impeachment can be dismissed or the trial dissolved.

Republican criticizes opening of "Pandora's box"

Republicans have been accused of acting in bad faith in the impeachment, especially after coming out against a bipartisan deal hammered out in the upper chamber that would have imposed the most draconian asylum and border policies in decades.

"House Republicans will be remembered by history for trampling on the Constitution for political gain rather than working to solve the serious challenges at our border," said Mia Ehrenberg, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Ken Buck, one of three Republicans who voted no in last week's vote, called the move against Mayorkas a "stunt" while fellow rebel Mike Gallagher said it would "pry open the Pandora's box of perpetual impeachment."

Cover photo: Collage: REUTERS

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