‘Long night’: Procedural maneuvers by Democrats delay vote on Mayorkas impeachment

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The U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security late Tuesday had yet to read two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejando Mayorkas filed by its chairman, Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn.

The hearing was called at 10 a.m. to mark up the articles and vote on them. Eight hours later, neither had occurred due to a range of procedural maneuvers initiated by Democratic committee members.

Article 1 is entitled “Willful and Systemic Refusal to Comply with the Law.” Article 2 is “Breach of the Public Trust.”

Green’s articles were amended and substituted for articles of impeachment previously filed by three Republican members of Congress from Arizona, Georgia and Texas. The articles allege Mayorkas is derelict in duty, intentionally violated laws established by Congress, and created a national security threat over the ongoing border crisis.

Ranking member U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, first objected to the committee holding the hearing and the chair to adjourn. The committee then voted on the request by a voice and a roll call vote, defeating it twice by a vote of 18-14.

Thompson also objected to the articles of impeachment being read, also prompting a voice and roll call vote, which were defeated twice by a party-line vote of 18-14.

Thompson then said members needed to submit objections in writing, and raised additional parliamentarian questions, prompting another voice and roll call vote. The votes again were along party lines, defeating Thompson’s request by 18-14.

Thompson then made a point of order stating the committee did not have jurisdiction over immigration issues, to which Green responded that the full House, including Democrats, last November voted for the committee to lead the charge on impeachment. The committee again voted on several procedural issues related to his request, defeating his request again along party lines, 18-14.

Green repeated claims he previously made about the committee’s constitutional responsibility and authority to bring impeachment charges.

“Part of the reason we are here is because on Nov. 13, 2023, 201 Democrats including 13 Democrats sitting here today, voted to refer articles of impeachment to our committee,” he said. “Every Democrat on the floor that night voted to do so. You don’t get to vote for something and then cry foul when it happens. No Democrat has a right to complain about the process without admitting they regret that vote.”

Green said the committee gave Mayorkas three opportunities “to defend his record in person. Each time he delayed and evaded. We even offered to accept written testimony from him in connection with our last hearing,” adding that the secretary finally replied to at 4:48 a.m. just hours ahead of Tuesday’s hearing. Mayorkas sent a 7-page letter to the committee Tuesday morning refuting the impeachment article allegations.

His “11th hour response demonstrates the lack of seriousness with which Secretary Mayorkas used his responsibilities,” Green said.

Thompson argued the committee rejected the intent of the framers of the Constitution “and over two centuries of precedent in favor of a sham impeachment.” He also said Republicans “failed to make a constitutionally viable case to impeach” and the two articles do not meet the standards for “high crimes and misdemeanors” cited in the Constitution.

He and other Democrats argued Mayorkas hadn’t committed any impeachable offenses and had “faithfully implemented the administration’s border policies.” Republicans disagreeing over policy differences is not an impeachable offense, Democrats argued.

Hour after hour, multiple members asked to have several documents, statements and reports added to the record. Members also debated at length the constitutionality of impeachment and blamed each party for immigration reform and border security policy failures.

Democrats then asked to read out loud amendments they wanted to file to the impeachment articles. Multiple breaks were called. The committee’s latest recess at 6pm for dinner was also a bone of contention with some members arguing over how long the recess should take.

Before recessing, Green said, “it was going to be a long night.”

It remains unclear when the articles of impeachment will be read, amended, voted on and likely passed by a vote of 18-14 as were most of the previous votes throughout the day.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, said last week that after the committee vote, “a vote on the floor will be held as soon as possible thereafter.”

The Republican majority House is expected to eventually impeach Mayorkas. If it does, Mayorkas would be just the second cabinet member in U.S. history and the first in nearly 150 years to be impeached. Secretary of War William Belknap, serving under President Ulysses S. Grant, was impeached on March 2, 1876. Although he had resigned, he stood trial before the U.S. Senate as a former government official and was acquitted.

In the Democratic-controlled Senate, Mayorkas would likely be acquitted.

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