The House Homeland Security Committee is on track to send the strongest possible message to President Joe Biden over his attitude and commitment to border security. Voting along party lines, the Republican-led group agreed to finalize two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas early Wednesday, Jan. 31. A full floor vote could come next week. In the meantime, both sides of the aisle will be making their arguments in the public square.
The two articles accuse the secretary of repeatedly violating “laws enacted by Congress regarding immigration and border security” and of having “made false statements to Congress.” The false statements portion arises from his repeated claims that the border is “secure.”
Serious Matters for Mayorkas
Describing it as a “grave” day, Committee Chairman Mark Green (R-TN) declared, “We have not approached this day or this process lightly. Secretary Mayorkas’s actions have forced our hand. We cannot allow this border crisis to continue.”
The drawn-out hearing lasted all day and into the small hours. Lawmakers sparred back and forth over past statements made by former President Trump, current President Biden, and a host of other figures to bolster their respective cases – or at least provide good sound bites. But the end result was not really in doubt. As Texas GOP Rep. Tony Gonzales explained:
“One of the most difficult things about Congress is it’s filled with nothing but lawyers, and they’ll talk all day about this, that or the other, which is … frustrating to many Americans. This is what’s going to happen. The House of Representatives is going to impeach Secretary Mayorkas, and there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to stop it. That’s going to happen.”
Should Gonzales’ prediction come true, this would be the first successful impeachment of a cabinet member since War Secretary William Belknap in 1876. Naturally, Democrats were not pleased with the move.
A Precedent, You Say?
Although he did not attend the hearing, Mayorkas was ready with a swift and brutal response. “We have provided Congress and your Committee hours of testimony, thousands of documents, hundreds of briefings, and much more information that demonstrates quite clearly how we are enforcing the law,” he wrote. “I assure you that your false accusations do not rattle me and do not divert me from the law enforcement and broader public service to which I remain devoted.”
Democrats argued this impeachment will set a dangerous precedent – a similar warning to that delivered by Republicans during both of Donald Trump’s impeachment trials.
A Question of Commitment
In Mayorkas’ defense, Democrat members insisted that the secretary had spent the last two months trying to work with Congress and the White House on a border deal that would secure an estimated $14 billion in funding. The Republican response, however, is that the funds are allocated to processing even more illegal migrants rather than stopping the unlawful crossings in the first place.
Had this impeachment effort gone forward even just a few months ago, it would likely have been dead in the water. But with immigration now only behind the economy on issues Americans say matter the most, the public tide of opinion could make some House Democrats consider their vote more carefully.