Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas looks up during a Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on the department’s budget request on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 26, 2021.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
House Republican leaders scrambled Tuesday to lock down enough support in their caucus to pass a bill to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Republicans can afford to lose only three votes if all House members cast ballots. By midday Tuesday, there were already two confirmed Republican “no” votes, and several more Republicans would not say how they planned to vote.
A procedural vote to begin debate on the Mayorkas impeachment resolution passed the House Tuesday afternoon, but six members missed the vote: Three Republicans and three Democrats.
“I am a lean ‘no,'” Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., told CNBC last week as the House Homeland Security Committee debated the articles of impeachment. “When you have policy differences that result in a really bad result, it’s still not impeachable.”
Buck and Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., who also voiced his opposition to the impeachment, leave Republicans with only one more “no” vote to spare.
House Republicans have 219 seats with three vacancies versus Democrats’ 212, with one vacancy.
McClintock released a 10-page memo Tuesday morning explaining his decision to vote no, after weeks of concealing where his swing vote would land.
“Taking the course outlined by the [Homeland Security Committee] is bad politics and bad policy,” he wrote in the memo.
House Republicans allege that Mayorkas has intentionally disobeyed federal immigration laws and has prevented oversight of the Homeland Security Department. The allegations come after months of record high levels of migrants crossing the U.S. southern border.
If the House votes to impeach, Mayorkas would become the second Cabinet member in U.S. history to be impeached and the first since 1876. He would then face a trial in the Democrat-controlled Senate, where a path to the two-thirds majority needed to remove him from office would be unlikely.
President Joe Biden has repeatedly denounced the impeachment effort as a political stunt. On Monday, the president issued a statement in a format usually reserved for executive vetoes.
“Impeaching Secretary Mayorkas would trivialize this solemn constitutional power and invite more partisan abuse of this authority in the future,” Biden said.
“If the House of Representatives wishes to address these challenges, the Constitution provides an obvious means: passing legislation.”
Biden’s scolding comes as he waits for Congress to pass a $118 billion bipartisan border security bill, which was released Sunday after months of Senate negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said a vote will be scheduled on Wednesday, though conservative opposition could hinder that timeline.
This is a developing story, please check back for updates.