House Republicans impeach Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas

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  • House Republicans voted to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
  • House Majority Leader Steve Scalise has returned from cancer treatment, and Republicans were banking on him to help secure the majority they were unable to achieve last week.
  • Republicans blame Mayorkas and the Biden administration for the border crisis, though they also disparaged a bipartisan Senate deal that would have provided $20 billion of border security funding.

The Republican-led House of Representatives on Tuesday impeached Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, only the second time in U.S. history that a Cabinet member has been impeached.

The House by the barest of margins, 214-213, approved two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas, alleging that he intentionally violated federal immigration laws and blocked congressional oversight of the Department of Homeland Security.

Mayorkas faces the prospect of a trial in the Senate, where he is all but certain to be acquitted by the chamber's Democratic majority. The Senate, which is on recess until Feb. 26, will either dismiss the impeachment articles outright or send the trial to a special committee to hear evidence.

"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," President Joe Biden said in a statement after the vote.

The White House has repeatedly condemned the impeachment effort over the past year, calling it a political distraction by Republicans, who refused $20 billion of border security funding in a bipartisan Senate deal last week.

"While Secretary Mayorkas was helping a group of Republican and Democratic Senators develop bipartisan solutions to strengthen border security and get needed resources for enforcement, House Republicans have wasted months with this baseless, unconstitutional impeachment," the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement after the vote.

Two Democrats, Reps. Judy Chu of California and Lois Frankel of Florida, were absent from the Tuesday vote, allowing Republicans to clinch the majority.

Chu was isolating after testing positive for Covid-19. She would have voted against the impeachment had she been on the House floor, she said in a post on X on Tuesday night.

The GOP-led impeachment motion was a small redemption for House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and Republican hard-liners after the same effort failed last week.

Johnson told NBC News that Republicans were "happy to get the job done" following the vote Tuesday night.

This time around, Republicans were confident they would have the majority vote to impeach now that House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., has returned to Washington after cancer treatment, which prevented him from breaking last week's 215-215 tie.

"There's always concerns, but no, it will pass," Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., said Tuesday ahead of the vote. "All the Republicans will be back and it'll pass."

That optimism still hinged on a razor-thin House Republican majority, which was threatened by a Northeast snowstorm that lawmakers feared would hamper travel to Capitol Hill. Even with all the GOP members present, Republicans could only afford to lose three members of their caucus voting against the impeachment.

During last Tuesday's vote, Reps. Ken Buck of Colorado, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin and Tom McClintock of California, crossed party lines to help Democrats sink the impeachment effort. All three stuck by their "no" votes Tuesday evening.

Days after he helped tank the impeachment last week, Gallagher announced that he would not seek reelection for a fifth House term, leaving his seat up for grabs in a key swing state.

Tuesday's impeachment revote took place hours before polls close in a New York special election to fill ex-Rep. George Santos' seat, which would further squeeze the House Republican majority if Democratic candidate Tom Suozzi prevails.

Johnson and ultraconservative Republicans see Mayorkas' impeachment as a key part of their broader siege against the Biden administration's handling of the southern border, which has seen record numbers of migrant crossings in recent months.

Mayorkas has contended that chaos at the border is not his fault but rather a symptom of the country's decadeslong broken immigration system. The Department of Homeland Security issued a memo, arguing that Republicans' allegations were false and did not meet the legal standard of impeachment.

"We don't bear responsibility for a broken system," Mayorkas said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

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