House Weighs Impeachments

Terry Schwadron
4 min readJan 19, 2023

Terry H. Schwadron

Jan. 19, 2023

As part of its broadsides against the Biden administration, House Republicans reportedly are at work to build a rare impeachment case against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — the first Cabinet impeachment since 1876.

As CNN tell it, three Republican House committee chairmen are already scheduling hearings within the next few weeks that would include testimony to show that Mayorkas has failed to secure the border. Even before any such hearings, Rep. Pete Fallon (R-Texas), has introduced articles of impeachment, and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), says he will reintroduce.

The apparent grounds are that Mayorkas has “undermined the operational control of our southern border and encouraged illegal immigration,” and has lied to Congress that the border was secure.

Doing this was all part of the behind-the-scenes negotiations with the most hardline Republicans to earn the Speaker’s post for Kevin McCarthy. As with much of what we have seen in these early days, this is puffery and messaging hype towards the administration, and to feed partisan pollical needs.

But as a matter of practicality, there are three main immediate problems, and could end up embarrassing themselves:

The hardliners may not have the votes in the House. Democrats will oppose impeachment, of course, and several Republicans who are not part of the Freedom Caucus say outright that failure on the border is not an impeachable crime.

The Democratic-majority Senate, which would try the case, won’t uphold an impeachment.

Most importantly, impeaching Mayorkas won’t resolve border policies, enforcement, security or much of anything.

Whose Fault is the Border?

Don’t misunderstand. Clearly there are problems at the border, and Mayorkas is the face of the administration. But it is the failure of Congress itself to consider and shape a comprehensive approach to immigration policy that is missing in inaction.

Mayorkas may be proving less than effective in his job, but he is being caught in an endless cycle of unclear administration and border agency policymaking, contradictory court decisions, executive actions by governors reacting to legal, illegal, and legally gray migrations to the border, and an absolute mess of a system that no one can figure out how to operate.

Firing or replacing Mayorkas won’t resolve what ails the border, though that is a moot issue, since Mayorkas is not resigning.

Impeaching him with no evidence of ethical breach or violation of law as the result of partisan politicking just seems well wide of the plate. Impeachment is a tool. It only works if it fits the problem at hand.

Then Secretary of War William Belknap, was impeached by the House before being acquitted by the Senate in 1876.

Rep. Chip Roy, a Texas Republican, a vocal member of the Freedom group, insists that Mayorkas “has violated his oath, that he has undermined our ability to defend our country.”

If that’s an impeachable offense, there are a lot of Republican members of Congress who might qualify for having voted to dump election results to consider renegade alternative slates of Electoral College slates to keep Donald Trump in office. These are the same Republicans who won’t look at their own lying Rep. George Santos, R-New York, for having invented an entire persona and under investigation for having violated federal campaign finance laws and fraud statutes.

Threat or Effectiveness?

CNN collected the quotes of a lot of Republicans who sound less than persuaded that there is a case for impeachment. As we saw during the Speaker votes, Republicans cannot afford to lose more than four votes, and there already is at least one promise against impeachment from Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas.

“Has (Mayorkas) been totally dishonest to people? Yes. Has he failed in his job miserably? Yes,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican. “Are those grounds for impeachment? I don’t know.”

But let’s face it: Mayorkas is not the target here. We already have promises from the likes of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) to impeach Joe Biden.

Until this week, we were wondering what the grounds might be, but Republicans already seem to be measuring the building complaints about handling classified documents — however blameless the violation or cooperative the administration with Justice and the National Archives — just may fill in the missing blanks.

Mayorkas has already testified in front of Congress numerous times. Strangely, challenges from Congress members from both sides of the aisle have not significantly halted migrants and the cartels now making a business of delivering them to the border.

Empty threats are easier than the hard work of dealing with the complexities of an understandable immigration policy.