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.
“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.