The Republican Chaos Caucus
House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries denounces the sham impeachment proceeding (C-SPAN video still)

An attempt by Repub­li­cans to use the peo­ple’s House as a venue for bring­ing base­less accu­sa­tions of mis­con­duct against a mem­ber of Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s cab­i­net fell apart spec­tac­u­lar­ly today when Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Al Green showed up to tor­pe­do Speak­er Mike John­son’s vote on impeach­ing Ale­jan­dro N. May­orkas, the cur­rent Sec­re­tary of the Depart­ment of Home­land Security.

Green, D‑Texas, arrived in a wheel­chair and still wear­ing a hos­pi­tal gown, hav­ing just under­gone abdom­i­nal surgery, and cast the deci­sive vote to block the impeach­ment motion, stun­ning and infu­ri­at­ing Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene, Mike John­son, and oth­er top House Repub­li­cans, who had failed to keep their cau­cus uni­fied, with three defec­tors, and were thus at risk of los­ing the vote.

Democ­rats made sure they failed, in what Kay­la Guo of The New York Times dubbed “like a scene out of a polit­i­cal thriller.”

“I was deter­mined to cast the vote long before — I had no idea how close it was going to be,” Mr. Green told Guo from his hos­pi­tal bed, which he returned to after ruin­ing House Repub­li­cans’ day. “I didn’t come assum­ing that my vote was going to make a dif­fer­ence. I came because it was personal.”

With the vote tied at 215–215 fol­low­ing Green’s hero­ics, Repub­li­cans were forced to throw in the tow­el. A fourth Repub­li­can, Blake Moore of Utah, switched his vote to allow him to make a motion to bring the impeach­ment back up lat­er, per­haps when Major­i­ty Leader Steve Scalise is back at the Capitol.

A glum John­son then announced the result of the vote.

Democ­rats cheered.

“I’ve seen a lot of embar­rass­ing days for dif­fer­ent House Repub­li­can lead­er­ship teams. This one is pret­ty high on the list,” tweet­ed Punch­bowl’s Jake Sher­man.

“The failed vote was a stun­ning rebuke of a months-long inves­ti­ga­tion into May­orkas that legal experts and even some Repub­li­cans had raised con­cerns about,” wrote a team of four Wash­ing­ton Post polit­i­cal reporters.

The New York Times declared it “A Day of Dys­func­tion for House Republicans.”

“Repub­li­cans in Con­gress suf­fered a humil­i­at­ing series of set­backs on Tues­day on crit­i­cal ele­ments of their agen­da, turn­ing the Capi­tol into a den of dys­func­tion that has left sev­er­al major issues, includ­ing U.S. mil­i­tary aid to Ukraine and Israel, in lim­bo amid polit­i­cal feud­ing,” report­ed Catie Edmond­son, who observed that in the span of one day, Repub­li­cans had nixed the bor­der deal they had demand­ed, failed to impeach May­orkas, and whiffed on an effort to send aid to Israel.

“The high-pro­file defeat came hours after John­son pre­dict­ed to reporters that he believed they would have the votes, even as he faced grow­ing skep­ti­cism from with­in own ranks and mul­ti­ple hold­outs refused to sign on,” not­ed Politi­co.

“The fail­ure of the vote to impeach May­orkas is very impor­tant in its own right, but even more because a group of Repub­li­cans bucked Speak­er John­son to exer­cise san­i­ty, exact­ly what needs to start hap­pen­ing gen­er­al­ly,” tweet­ed Los Ange­les Times Senior Legal Affairs Colum­nist Har­ry Lit­man.

U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Marie Glue­senkamp Perez, who vot­ed no, said she want­ed to see bipar­ti­san coop­er­a­tion on immi­gra­tion instead of par­ti­san gamesmanship.

“As the num­ber of migrants unlaw­ful­ly cross­ing our south­ern bor­der reached a record high in Decem­ber, it’s evi­dent the Biden admin­is­tra­tion has failed to get a han­dle on this unsus­tain­able human­i­tar­i­an cri­sis. Our gov­ern­ment has an oblig­a­tion to main­tain a secure bor­der, yet it’s been unable to even keep track of who’s trav­el­ing in and out – the Amer­i­can peo­ple deserve bet­ter,” she said.

“The cri­sis at our South­ern Bor­der is an urgent issue that requires seri­ous, bipar­ti­san action by Con­gress. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the House Major­i­ty decid­ed to waste valu­able time on this failed polit­i­cal stunt, instead of on find­ing a bipar­ti­san solu­tion to this cri­sis. Impeach­ment pow­er was nev­er intend­ed to be used to sanc­tion office­hold­ers over pol­i­cy dif­fer­ences, and today’s bor­der pol­i­cy fail­ures are not high crimes and misdemeanors.”

“Our immi­gra­tion sys­tem has been bro­ken for decades, while the num­ber of migrants arriv­ing at our south­ern bor­der con­tin­ues to grow.”

“In absence of fur­ther action from the Biden Admin­is­tra­tion, it’s up to Con­gress to find a bipar­ti­san com­pre­hen­sive immi­gra­tion solu­tion that deliv­ers for our com­mu­ni­ties’ safe­ty, migrants seek­ing legal path­ways to cit­i­zen­ship, and our small busi­ness­es and farms fac­ing acute labor shortages.”

“It’s also crit­i­cal that Con­gress stop the flow of illic­it fen­tanyl across the South­ern Bor­der, and I hope any immi­gra­tion reform pack­age will include solu­tions like the FEND off Fen­tanyl Act to fur­ther tar­get opi­oid traffickers.

“We don’t need more polit­i­cal grand­stand­ing – we need a bipar­ti­san com­pro­mise that reflects our val­ues and keeps us safe. I’m ready to work with Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats to get it done.”

But Repub­li­cans don’t share her goals. With the excep­tion of the three defec­tors, they all seem bent on fin­ish­ing what they start­ed as soon as possible.

House Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader Hakeem Jef­fries offered a strong con­dem­na­tion of their incom­pe­tent polit­i­cal the­atrics in a floor speech pre­ced­ing the vote.

“Sec­re­tary May­orkas is a good man, a patri­ot­ic man and a hard­work­ing man doing the best he can under very dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances,” said Jef­fries.

“That’s not an impeach­able offense.”

“Extreme MAGA Repub­li­cans have pro­duced no evi­dence that Sec­re­tary May­orkas has engaged in a high crime or mis­de­meanor, no evi­dence that Sec­re­tary May­orkas has engaged in an impeach­able offense and no evi­dence that Sec­re­tary May­orkas has bro­ken the law or vio­lat­ed the Con­sti­tu­tion. Not a shred of evi­dence, not a scin­til­la of evi­dence. Noth­ing but extreme MAGA Repub­li­can chaos and con­fu­sion, and the effort to avoid doing the hard work nec­es­sary to find com­mon ground to actu­al­ly address the chal­lenges at the border.”

The vote in the Pacif­ic North­west on the May­orkas impeach­ment was along par­ty lines. As men­tioned, there were three Repub­li­can defec­tions, but none of them were from the Pacif­ic North­west. The three were Ken Buck of Col­orado, Mike Gal­lagher of Wis­con­sin, and Tom McClin­tock of California.

Ore­gon’s Lori Chavez DeRe­mer, who some­times cross­es par­ty lines to vote with Democ­rats, was a yes vote, along with Ida­ho’s Mike Simp­son (the more rea­son­able of Ida­ho’s two Repub­li­can U.S. rep­re­sen­ta­tives) and Wash­ing­ton’s Dan New­house, who vot­ed to impeach Don­ald Trump.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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