Mayorkas Impeachment Dies in Senate, Thwarting GOP Attack

(Bloomberg Government) -- Republican-led efforts to oust Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas met an anticlimactic but predictable fate Wednesday as the Senate swiftly sidelined charges against him.

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The Senate, after a few hours of deliberation, voted mostly on party lines to toss the two impeachment articles against Mayorkas, rejecting GOP pressure to conduct a full trial that would cast a harsh light on the Biden administration’s border policies ahead of the presidential election.

The historic campaign against Mayorkas—the first Cabinet secretary impeached in almost 150 years—was always expected to hit a dead end in the Senate. Democrats and a few Republicans there have long panned the effort as a political stunt, making it virtually certain Mayorkas wouldn’t be removed from office.

Democrats’ quick action to cut off proceedings after House Republicans delivered the articles Tuesday eliminates the possibility of a drawn-out, contentious trial that would have represented a political liability for Biden.

Republicans slammed the maneuver and are already using it against vulnerable Democrats, accusing them of failing to seriously consider the charges against Mayorkas despite record migrant encounters at the border during much of President Joe Biden’s term.

“The American people deserve to hear the evidence through a Senate trial in the Court of Impeachment,” more than 40 Republicans said in a letter to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) last week.

Political Consequences?

Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.) on the Senate floor said Democrats’ handling of the impeachment was akin to “setting our Constitution ablaze.” He and other Republicans raised a series of procedural objections after the Senate kicked off proceedings Wednesday.

“I hope it has political consequences” for Democrats, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters after the votes. “If it doesn’t, it’d be a shame.”

Republicans have used the border as a cudgel against Democrats who are seeking re-election in red states in November. Gallup polling this year showed immigration rising to Americans’ top issue, surpassing government dysfunction and the economy.

Democrats are trying to neutralize the GOP’s attacks on Biden’s border policies by calling out Republicans’ rejection of a bipartisan Senate border deal that collapsed under pressure from former President Donald Trump earlier this year.

Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), both currently in tight races, issued statements after Wednesday’s vote calling on their colleagues to pass bipartisan legislation. Tester also pushed for the Biden administration to flex its executive authority at the border.

“This is just purely a political stunt and it’s just so apparent to people that it’s not going to be a factor” for vulnerable Democrats, said Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who leads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

House Republicans impeached Mayorkas in February on the narrowest possible margin, with three GOP defectors. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) on Wednesday voted present on a measure to toss the first impeachment article against Mayorkas—which dealt with enforcing federal immigration laws—declining to support either side. She aligned with fellow Republicans in opposing a maneuver to toss the second article, which alleged public trust violations.

Muted Impact

The muted impact of the impeachment was on display this week and last as the secretary appeared for a series of hearings to defend the Department of Homeland Security’s budget request for fiscal 2025. He took the opportunities to press Congress to pass the bipartisan border deal and give DHS more money and legal tools to deal with the border situation, which he acknowledged was a crisis.

Mayorkas Asks for Border Cash From Republicans Who Impeached Him

Many Republicans have been gunning for Mayorkas’ ouster since shortly after he took the helm at the Department of Homeland Security in 2021. When the GOP took control of the House in 2023 and pledged to go after Biden and several members of his Cabinet, Mayorkas quickly emerged as the simplest target.

Biden unwound several Trump-era border restrictions after taking office, and Republicans blame him—and Mayorkas—for skyrocketing migrant encounters that have drawn increasing concern in recent years from voters across the political spectrum.

House Republicans ultimately filed impeachment articles that accused Mayorkas of ignoring federal immigration statutes, including provisions that mandate detention of immigrants who’ve crossed the border illegally. They also charged the secretary with violating the “public trust” by insisting the border is secure. Constitutional law scholars from across the ideological spectrum say their complaints don’t meet the standard for impeachment.

Mayorkas has defended the administration’s border policies as a carrot-and-stick approach that provides new legal pathways to the US while cracking down on unlawful entries. He’s insisted he won’t let the impeachment distract from his mission leading the agency.

“Today’s decision by the Senate to reject House Republicans’ baseless attacks on Secretary Mayorkas proves definitively that there was no evidence or Constitutional grounds to justify impeachment,” DHS spokesperson Mia Ehrenberg said in a statement.

— With assistance from Zach C. Cohen and Steven T. Dennis.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Ruoff at; Robin Meszoly at; Bill Swindell at

(Updates with additional reporting throughout.)

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