February 14, 2024

Mayorkas Impeached, First Cabinet Member in Nearly 150 Years

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas faced impeachment by the House on Tuesday night in a closely contested 214 to 213 vote, marking the first impeachment of a cabinet official in nearly 150 years.

The last such impeachment occurred in 1876 when Secretary of War William Belknap, serving under President Ulysses S. Grant, faced impeachment proceedings, despite resigning before the vote took place.

Belknap was ultimately acquitted by the Senate, a likely outcome if the Senate does not quash Mayorkas's impeachment procedurally.

Nonetheless, Republicans see the impeachment as a rare opportunity in a sharply divided Congress to hold the Biden administration accountable, particularly on issues surrounding the southern border, which could shape the 2024 election.

Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) underscored Mayorkas's alleged failure to enforce federal law, attributing it to the crisis at the southern border and emphasizing the duty of House Republicans to pursue impeachment as a means of accountability.

Tuesday's outcome follows a previous failed attempt by House Republicans to impeach Mayorkas last week, with a pivotal vote against impeachment cast by Rep. Al Green (D-TX), who unexpectedly participated in the vote despite being in a wheelchair and having been in a Washington emergency room.

The decision to proceed with Tuesday's vote was facilitated by the return of Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), who had been absent since December receiving cancer treatment in Louisiana.

A special election in New York's Third Congressional District, potentially favoring former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY), contributed to ensuring Mayorkas's safety.

Despite widespread Republican support for impeachment, several GOP representatives, including Reps. Ken Buck (R-CO), Tom McClintock (R-CA), and Mike Gallagher (R-WI), aligned with Democrats in voting against impeaching Mayorkas.

Gallagher's decision not to seek reelection following his vote against impeachment underscores the contentious nature of the issue within the party.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) emerged as a prominent advocate for Mayorkas's removal from office, alleging intentional disregard for existing laws and dishonesty before Congress as grounds for impeachment.

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