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House GOP advances effort to impeach Mayorkas

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In a marathon session of debate lasting into the early morning hours, House Republicans on the Homeland Security Committee took a significant step forward in their bid to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

The GOP-led committee, in a 18-15 party-line vote, approved two articles of impeachment, accusing Mayorkas of “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” regarding migrant detention and parole, and charging him with “breach of public trust” for allegedly making false statements and obstructing congressional oversight.

Committee Chair Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., declared, “Today is a grave day,” emphasizing that Mayorkas’ actions necessitated this move, citing the ongoing border crisis. Mayorkas defended himself in a letter to the panel, asserting that immigration system problems preceded his tenure and listing departmental actions to address the migrant influx.

Democrats on the committee countered that Republicans are pursuing impeachment for political reasons, arguing that none of the allegations meet the constitutional standard of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Rep. Bennie Thompson, the panel’s top Democrat, lamented the move, calling it a “terrible day” for the Constitution.

The debate delved into Mayorkas’ responsiveness to oversight, with the secretary claiming he had testified before Congress 27 times and expressing willingness to appear during the impeachment proceedings. Democrats argued that Republicans’ claims were based on subjective terms and lacked constitutional grounds.

Republicans, however, maintained that Mayorkas committed impeachable offenses, accusing him of disregarding laws passed by Congress. The hearings also involved debates over a Supreme Court ruling from June 2023, with differing interpretations on the role of Congress in responding to perceived executive branch failures.

The Homeland Security Committee held two impeachment hearings featuring testimony from Republican state attorneys general and mothers affected by the border crisis. Democrats countered with legal experts who opined that Mayorkas’ actions fell short of the constitutional impeachment threshold.

A majority vote in the House is required to impeach Mayorkas, with a two-thirds majority needed in the Democratic-led Senate for conviction and removal from office. The historical context is invoked, as Mayorkas could become only the second Cabinet official in American history to face impeachment, following Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876, who was acquitted by the Senate on corruption allegations.

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