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Democrats sink both impeachment articles against Mayorkas on Senate floor without debate or trial

The two impeachment articles against Mayorkas alleged a "breach of trust" related to Mayorkas describing the southern U.S. border as secure as well as a "willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law."

Published: April 17, 2024 1:47pm

Updated: April 17, 2024 5:19pm

The Democratic-led Senate killed both impeachment charges against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday, cancelling the impeachment trial before it could get off the ground.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., offered a deal to the Senate GOP where senators would have time for floor debate and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, would be able to force votes on a full trial as well as the establishment of an impeachment committee. Schumer said votes on dismissing the impeachment articles would follow. Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Mo., said on the Senate floor that he objected to voting to dismiss the charges without a full trial.

After his objection, Schumer motioned for a floor vote on the constitutionality of impeachment article one against Mayorkas. Schumer argued that it does not rise to the level of "high crimes and misdemeanors."

Cruz requested a vote that the Senate move to a closed session to debate the constitutionality of impeachment article one, given that Schumer didn't outline evidence on the Senate floor to support his position. Schumer shot back, saying he gave the GOP a chance to debate the articles in public but Schmitt objected. The motion raised by Cruz failed to pass.

Schumer's motion to deem article one unconstitutional ultimately passed 51-48. He then made a motion to deem article two unconstitutional, which also passed 51-49. The Senate passed a motion to adjourn the trial.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate set a very "dangerous precedent" by ignoring the House's directions to have an impeachment trial.

"No evidence, no procedure. This is a day that's not a proud day in the history of the Senate," he said.

Lee called Schumer's move to cancel the trial without debate "historic," given that a verdict was never reached. He said that "nothing could be further" from the U.S. Constitution. 

The two impeachment articles against Mayorkas alleged a "breach of trust" related to Mayorkas describing the southern U.S. border as secure as well as a "willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law."

Mayorkas told Congress under oath that the southern border was secure when migrants attempting to enter the U.S. was surging. Migrant encounters have continued to set records and the Biden Administration has been releasing millions into U.S. communities. House Republicans estimate that there have been 8 million migrant encounters to date under Biden. They also estimate that about 3.5 million migrants have been released into the U.S.

Senate Republicans had argued that the chamber should not set a precedent that lying to Congress to not an impeachable offense. 

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, noted that never before the history of the U.S. have impeachment articles been dismissed before impeachment managers have a chance to present their case.

Some senators such as John Thune, R-S.D., tried to make several arguments on the floor as to why the Senate should hold a trial, including that the "worst border crisis" in U.S. history has unfolded since 2021. The presiding office, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said the Senate was not in a debatable position and called for order.

"The Senate will be in order," she said.

Schumer said earlier on Wednesday that he would allow a floor debate on the impeachment articles but called on senators to dismiss the charges.

"For the sake of the Senate's integrity and to protect impeachment for those rare cases, we truly need it. Senators should dismiss today's charges," Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor.

"So when we convene in trial today to accommodate the wishes of our Republican Senate colleagues, I will seek an agreement for a period of debate time that would allow Republicans to offer a vote on trial resolutions, allow for Republicans to offer points of order and then move to dismiss," he added.

McConnell, R-Ky., said on Wednesday that "tabling articles of impeachment would be unprecedented in the history of the Senate."

After the articles were dismissed, House Republican leaders released a joint statement condemning Schumer's handling of the trial.

"By voting unanimously to bypass their constitutional responsibility, every single Senate Democrat has issued their full endorsement of the Biden Administration’s dangerous open border policies. Secretary Mayorkas alongside President Biden has used nearly every tool at his disposal to engineer the greatest humanitarian and national security catastrophe at our borders in American history," House GOP leaders said.  

"Tragically, Senate Democrats don’t believe this catastrophe merits their time or a discussion on the Senate floor. Instead, they’re signaling to millions demanding accountability that the cabinet official directly responsible for this disaster – who has ignored the law and misled Congress repeatedly – is above reproach. The American people will hold Senate Democrats accountable for this shameful display," he added.

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