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Republicans stumble with Senate border bill and Mayorkas impeachment, but may seek do-over

“There will be a trial," says Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., adding that the impeachment resolution will likely be voted on again next week

Published: February 6, 2024 11:00pm

Updated: February 7, 2024 12:10pm

House Republicans are hoping for a do-over next week after their effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas failed on Tuesday evening 216-214.

Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., told Just the News after the vote that Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, changed his vote to no so the resolution can be brought up again next week when House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., is in the chamber. Scalise was reportedly receiving cancer treatment and had to miss the floor vote. Clyde predicted that it will pass whenever it is voted on next week with Scalise present.

“There will be a trial,” Clyde said during an interview after the vote. "It is still a live vote. It will come back next week."

Mayorkas so far has narrowly avoided becoming the first sitting cabinet secretary to be impeached after the House GOP voted to reject the resolution on Tuesday. 

"I fully expect that next week we will impeach Mayorkas," Clyde said.

A cabinet secretary hasn't faced impeachment charges since 148 years ago in 1876. The Mayorkas impeachment would have been the first time a sitting secretary has been impeached. Secretary of War William Belknap resigned ahead of the vote in 1876.

A total of 11 impeachment managers would have been formally appointed if the resolution had passed. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul was one of the lawmakers to be appointed. 

"By refusing to enforce the law, Sec. Mayorkas has violated his oath of office. I’m honored to have been appointed by Speaker Johnson as a Senate impeachment trial manager, using my experience as a federal prosecutor to stand up for our Constitution & the safety of all Americans," McCaul wrote on X.

The resolution faced opposition from a handful of Republicans who argued that it set a precedent that Democrats could use against future Republican cabinet secretaries. 

"I think that it lowers the grounds of impeachment," said Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., ahead of the vote.

Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., responded to GOP critics of the Mayorkas impeachment effort on his X account prior to the vote.

"A few Republicans oppose impeachment of Mayorkas because they fail to grasp the actual 1789 meaning of Constitutional writ. If they seek affirmation of their position, then let the historical record of our Republic reflect a full and vigorous Senate trial," he wrote. "America deserves closure on the 'High Crimes and Misdemeanors' disagreement.'"

Republicans such as House Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green, R-Tenn., have argued that Mayorkas isn't properly enforcing existing provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act as encounters with migrants at the border set all-time records.

“While I’m disappointed in the outcome of today’s vote, this is not the end of our efforts to hold Secretary Mayorkas accountable. I look forward to Leader Scalise’s return," Green said in a statement after the vote.

A single month record of 302,000 migrant encounters occurred at the border in December 2023 alone and 2.4 million total encounters in fiscal year 2023. 

Democrats described the Mayorkas impeachment effort as a "sham" that's based on policy disagreements with President Biden.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas., a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, told Just the News that the GOP should not "waste time on revengeful impeachments."

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., predicted that Senate Democrats would have killed the Mayorkas impeachment trial if the resolution passed the House. 

“We would dismiss it, yes. I think there’s the votes for that,” Manchin said on Tuesday, according to the Washington Examiner.

In the Senate, Republican leaders are vowing to oppose the border deal that Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., negotiated with Senate Democrats. Lankford has been heavily criticized for negotiating a deal that House Republican leaders declared is "dead on arrival" in the chamber, arguing that it doesn't adequately secure the border and could incentivize more illegal immigration. 

Under the new authority included in the bill, Biden would have the power to close the southern border if immigrant encounters reach an average of 5,000 per day over a seven day period.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a Democrat negotiator of the border deal, noted that the legislation includes a "requirement the President to [sic] funnel asylum claims to the land ports of entry when more than 5,000 people cross" the border in a single day.

"The border never closes, but claims must be processed at the ports. This allows for a more a more orderly, humane asylum processing system," he said.

An immigration law expert told Just the News that provisions of the bill would lead to more attempted crossings at ports of entry if the president's emergency authority is ever invoked. The legislation permits a minimum of 1,400 migrants to be processed at ports of entry.

Immigration has became the top concern on the minds of most voters, according to the results of a recent Harvard CAPS-Harris X poll. Of the voters who were polled, 35% named immigration as a top issue followed by inflation.