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Legislators often tout support for some piece of legislation as bipartisan, even if only a few members from the opposing party back it.
But in an announcement about committee hearings to investigate the possible impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, one Republican is taking claims of bipartisanship to absurd new lengths.
“The bipartisan House vote in November to refer articles of impeachment to my Committee only served to highlight the importance of our taking up the impeachment process,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark E. Green stated on Jan. 3.
Later, on Fox News, Green said, “Look, the Democrats are the ones that made the motion to bring this to my committee, so we’re going to do it.”
But let’s pull back the curtain on this procedural sleight of hand.
On Nov. 13, Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene proposed a “privileged” resolution to impeach Mayorkas “for high crimes and misdemeanors.” According to the rules of the House, that meant the resolution had to be considered in some fashion within two legislative days.
In response, Democratic Whip Katherine Clark made a motion to refer the resolution to the Committee on Homeland Security. The motion passed 209-201, with 201 Democrats and eight Republicans voting in favor. No Democrats voted against the motion.
But contrary to that being a Democratic endorsement of sending the impeachment resolution to committee, the vote was made to prevent an immediate vote on the floor to impeach Mayorkas.
Adam Comis, a staffer for Democrats on the Homeland Security Committee, told us referring the bill to committee was “the only other option” available to prevent an immediate House vote to impeach Mayorkas. Green “saying it’s a bipartisan initiative is not accurate,” Comis said.
Despite failing to force an immediate impeachment vote, Greene formally notified the House on Nov. 29 of her intent to again raise a privileged resolution impeaching Mayorkas.
“I’ll just keep reintroducing it,” Greene said.
The Impeachment Resolution
Greene alleges in her impeachment resolution that Mayorkas “has failed to maintain operational control of the border, thereby violating the Secure Fence Act of 2006.”
The Secure Fence Act of 2006 did call on the secretary of Homeland Security to “take all actions the Secretary determines necessary and appropriate to achieve and maintain operational control” over the border. The law defined operational control as “the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband.”
Appearing before the Judiciary Committee on July 26, Mayorkas said that “under that statutory definition, no administration has achieved operational control.”
“What we do is ensure that the resources that we have are deployed most effectively to gain the greatest amount of control that we can,” Mayorkas said.
In her impeachment resolution, Greene also alleges that Mayorkas has allowed an “ongoing invasion at our southern border” that is a “direct national security threat,” and that he has therefore failed to uphold the Constitution.
Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution reads, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.”
In his July 26 testimony before Congress, Mayorkas said he has adhered to the law “strictly” and “scrupulously.”
Greene also faulted Mayorkas for “terminating contracts for border wall construction, ending the Migrant Protection Protocols (Remain in Mexico), unlawfully granting categorical parole, and being complicit in ending title 42” — all of which, the resolution says, has resulted in making it “easier for illegal people and drugs to enter the United States, endangering American citizens.”
Under the “Remain in Mexico” policy instituted by the Trump administration, asylum seekers had to stay in Mexico to await their court appearances in the U.S. Title 42 is a public health order that was used by Trump during the pandemic to allow border officials to immediately return Mexican migrants caught trying to enter the country illegally. Shortly after taking office, Biden sought to end both policies, though courts delayed implementation. In other words, Mayorkas was following the president’s policy.
Greene’s claim about parole refers to the Biden administration’s efforts to expand and streamline the asylum process for some.
During his July 26 testimony, Mayorkas said that the administration’s parole authority “is being used consistent with the law” and is used on a case-by-case basis. The benefits, he said, are that it has lowered the number of encounters of people trying to enter illegally at the southern border, that it has allowed DHS to screen and vet asylum seekers before they arrive at the border, and that it cuts out “the smuggling organizations that wreak such tragedy and trauma on the lives of vulnerable individuals.”
Democrats were quick to condemn Greene’s resolution as baseless political theater.
Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. told the New York Times, “Secretary Mayorkas is an honorable man who has dedicated years to public service. This matter is so baseless, so pointless, so free of fact or reason, I won’t even bother addressing its lack of merits.”
Eight Republicans also blocked an impeachment vote by supporting the motion to send the resolution to the Homeland Security Committee.
In a statement released after the Nov. 13 vote, Republican Rep. Tom McClintock said he agreed that Mayorkas “is the worst cabinet secretary in American history, guilty of malfeasance, neglect of duty and maladministration.” But, he said he did not believe Mayorkas’ actions met the bar of “high crimes and misdemeanors” needed for impeachment.
“Elections have consequences, and this is one of them,” McClintock said.
When Greene signaled on Nov. 29 that she intended to again raise a privileged resolution impeaching Mayorkas, McClintock was even more direct in his criticism of it.
“By failing to abide by due process and constitutional constraints, Ms. Greene is tainting this serious impeachment inquiry with a shoot-from-the-hip stunt that is reckless, partisan, and manifestly unserious,” McClintock said from the floor of the House that day.
Impeachment Hearings to Begin
For his part, Green, the chair of the Homeland Security Committee, said he plans to begin impeachment proceedings against Mayorkas, with the first hearing on Jan. 10.
In a statement to us, Rep. Bennie Thompson, the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, said, “No matter how many reports Republicans release, hearings they hold, or Fox News interviews they make, nothing Chairman Green has done this past year has changed the fact that the extreme MAGA Republican effort to impeach Secretary Mayorkas is completely baseless. They’ve only shown the American people it is nothing more than a political stunt without any foundation in the Constitution. It was never meant to be a legitimate investigation – only a MAGA spectacle.”
At a press conference at the border in Texas on Jan. 3, Green called Mayorkas “the greatest domestic threat to the national security and the safety of the American people” and alleged that “he, through his policies, has defied and subverted the laws passed by the United States Congress.”
Whether Mayorkas’ actions warrant an impeachment inquiry is, of course, a political dispute. And Green is free to make arguments to bolster his case for it. But his attempts to paint the committee hearings he is about to start as a bipartisan initiative are misleading. As their comments make clear, Democrats oppose an impeachment inquiry against Mayorkas. They voted to send the issue to committee to thwart an immediate House vote on impeachment.
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