Senate readies for Mayorkas impeachment showdown

Michael Macagnone, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — The Senate received the articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday, as Democrats plan to vote as soon as Wednesday to quickly dispense with the effort to remove him from office.

Following the presentation of the articles, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said the chamber would swear in senators as jurors at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

Schumer has said the chamber would dispense with the articles “quickly,” but the exact mechanics of that process are still unclear. The chamber almost certainly will not vote the 67 votes to convict Mayorkas.

However the Democratic caucus would need to hold together on any votes to sidestep a trial in the closely divided chamber, and a few members on the Democratic side facing elections this fall have been targeted by Republican criticism.

A group of Republicans led by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has pushed for the Senate to hold a full impeachment trial for Mayorkas, including an effort Monday night to pass resolutions to have a full trial in the Senate or have a special committee handle the impeachment.

Lee and others held a press conference Tuesday with several of the House members who are impeachment managers. The group reiterated the allegations in the impeachment and called on Schumer to allow a trial, with Lee saying Republicans may withhold the unanimous consent that allows the Senate to function normally.

“We have an obligation on our side to make sure that that’s not OK and that doesn’t involve looking past this,” Lee said.

Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., asked voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Montana and Ohio — states where sitting Democrats are facing reelection — to call their senators asking them to vote for a trial.

“If they don’t then we need to hold them accountable in November,” Marshall said.

Republicans have compared the Democratic plan to avoid a trial to the 2013 “nuclear option” rule change, where the Democrat-led Senate voted to reduce the threshold to advance federal judges and administrative appointees.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said Tuesday he had not decided how he may vote on a move to quickly dispense with the articles, telling reporters, “I have not read them yet.”

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, argued the Republicans’ dire warnings about the institution are overblown. He pointed out that most Republicans voted to dismiss the impeachment of former President Donald Trump, the same thing they complain Democrats plan to do, in 2021.

“Everybody just needs to take a deep breath. We’re all doing our jobs here,” Schatz said. “Not everything is the end of the institution.”

Republican Whip Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told reporters Tuesday that there are talks behind the scenes over whether there would be a time agreement for debate before a planned vote to dispense with the articles.


Thune said, for instance, Schumer could move to table the charges, which would not be debatable, or move to dismiss them, which would be.

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said Republicans had discussed a possible offer from Democrats that would allow for several hours of debate Wednesday before the chamber takes any vote to dispense with or table the articles of impeachment.

Even without an agreement, Tillis said Republicans can offer up objections and try to force votes but may not have much power over the process.

“You can consume time but at the end of the day the majority has full control,” Tillis said.

Immigration focus

The Mayorkas impeachment is one aspect of the broader fight between Republicans and the Biden administration over immigration and border policy that has interwoven with election-year politics.

Rep. Mark E. Green, R-Tenn., the chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security and lead impeachment manager, read out the articles Tuesday on the Senate floor, which criticized Mayorkas for the number of border crossings, backlog in the courts and immigrants let into the country who later committed crimes.

The House passed two articles in February, for “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and “breach of public trust” tied to the Biden administration’s immigration policies, on a 214-213 vote.

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., told reporters Tuesday the “catastrophe” at the border the party’s No. 1 priority in the House. He called on the Senate to hold a trial for Mayorkas promptly, saying he “has repeatedly violated the public trust in a way that no previous cabinet secretary in the history of the United States has.”

That has also included court spats between the Biden administration and Texas, where the Republican-led state government has passed a law allowing state officials to effectively deport immigrants.

Johnson also called for tougher border controls Tuesday, including shutting down the border entirely. “If this is not the time it is in the nation’s interest we don’t know when it will be,” Johnson said.

The full list of managers includes Republican Reps. Michael McCaul of Texas, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Clay Higgins of Louisiana, Ben Cline of Virginia, Michael Guest of Mississippi, Andrew Garbarino of New York, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, August Pfluger of Texas, Harriet M. Hageman of Wyoming and Laurel Lee of Florida.


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