House panel set to advance articles of impeachment against Mayorkas

Washington — The House Homeland Security Committee is on track to advance articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Tuesday, which would pave the way for a full House vote in the coming days. 

House Republicans on Sunday released two articles of impeachment against President Biden’s top immigration official, accusing him of “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and “breach of public trust” over the administration’s handling of the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. 

GOP Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, the committee’s chairman, said the panel had “exhausted all other options” to hold Mayorkas accountable. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the top Democrat on the committee, characterized the impeachment effort as a “sham” and said the articles lack “even a shred of evidence of high crimes or misdemeanors.” 

The impeachment push comes as the GOP has made border security a central theme of the 2024 campaign and as House Republicans have come out against a border security-immigration deal that Mayorkas helped negotiate with a bipartisan group of senators. House Republican opposition has threatened its chances of passage in the lower chamber. 

The first impeachment article accuses Mayorkas of repeatedly violating the law by allowing the release of migrants who are awaiting court proceedings. The second article alleges Mayorkas lied to lawmakers about whether the southern border was secure and obstructed congressional oversight of the department. 

House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana said last week the House would vote on the impeachment articles “as soon as possible.” 

The charges against Mayorkas face an all but certain failure in the Democratic-controlled Senate, which requires a two-thirds majority to convict and remove him. But his impeachment would be historic given that he’d be the first cabinet official to be impeached in almost 150 years. 

The impeachment fight 

On the eve of the committee’s vote to advance the articles, Democrats released a report defending Mayorkas’ actions and accusing Republicans of abusing their impeachment power. 

“Impeachment is an extraordinary remedy under the United States Constitution. It is not a tool for policy or political differences, and constitutional scholars and even some Republicans agree,” Democrats said in the 29-page report, which slammed the proceedings as a political exercise meant to “satiate the extreme MAGA base.” 

The committee sped through impeachment proceedings this month, holding just two hearings in which lawmakers heard testimony from three state attorneys general, as well as from people whose family members have died as a result of fentanyl overdoses or violent crime. 

Democrats said Republicans failed to give Mayorkas a chance to testify, denying him of “a meaningful opportunity to respond to the baseless charges against him.” 

Republicans and the Homeland Security Department clashed over whether Mayorkas would appear in person during the impeachment proceedings. Mayorkas declined to attend the hearing on Jan. 18, citing a conflicting meeting with Mexican officials about border enforcement, but agreed to testify at a later date. Green accused Mayorkas of playing a game of “cat and mouse,” and the border chief was instead instructed to submit written testimony before the end of the month. 

But the committee’s 18 Republican members then decided they did not need to wait to hear from Mayorkas, announcing after the final hearing that they all supported impeaching him. 

In a letter to lawmakers ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Mayorkas called on Congress to step up and provide a legislative solution to the border crisis. He said the policies negotiated by senators would “make a substantial difference at our border.”

He also hit back at Republican attacks, calling their accusations “politically motivated.” 

“I assure you that your false accusations do not rattle me and do not divert me from the law enforcement and broader public service mission to which I have devoted most of my career and to which I remain devoted,” Mayorkas said. 

In response to the release of the impeachment articles, the department on Sunday said the effort was a “distraction from other vital national security priorities and the work Congress should be doing to actually fix our broken immigration laws.” 

“They don’t want to fix the problem; they want to campaign on it,” the department said in a memo. 

Nicole Sganga contributed reporting. 

How to watch the Mayorkas impeachment articles markup 

  • What: House Homeland Security Committee votes to advance articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas 
  • Date: Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024 
  • Time: 10 a.m. ET
  • Online stream: Live on CBS News in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device.

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