Impeachment is a serious thing that’s meant to punish elected or appointed officials for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” We’re confident saying that our forefathers didn’t intend impeachment to be political. The Republican house caucus just impeached Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Was it justified or just another case of political posturing? Keep reading to learn more.

Who Is Alejandro Mayorkas?

Alejandro Mayorkas is the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. That makes him a cabinet member and a top advisor to President Joe Biden. He previously served in the department during the Obama administration, first as director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and then as the deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Source: Wikimedia/U.S. Department of Homeland Security

President Biden announced that he would appoint Mayorkas as Secretary in November of 2020, shortly after the election. Mayorkas was approved by the Senate by a vote of 56-43, with 6 Republicans voting with the Democrats. He has served ever since. His tenure hasn’t been without controversy, particularly around the situation at our Southern border.

This Was Republicans’ Second Attempt to Impeach Mayorkas

February 13 marked the second attempt by Republicans to impeach Secretary Mayorkas. They rushed to hold a second vote, in part out of concern that a special election in New York to replace ousted representative George Santos would erode their majority. Those fears were well-founded as we now know that the Republicans lost that seat.

Source: CNN

The Republicans eked out a 214-213 victory that was made possible by House Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s return to Washington. The argument for impeachment was that Mayorkas has failed to uphold US immigration laws or fully address the issue of illegal immigration. The narrow vote may point to trouble ahead for the GOP as the impeachment moves to the Senate.

What Happened With The First Impeachment Attempt?

It was just last week that House Republicans made their first attempt to impeach the Homeland Secretary. They took a chance, assuming that they’d have the votes to move forward, but the vote failed. The final vote was incredibly close, with the tally coming in at 214 votes for impeachment and 216 against.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The first vote failed for a couple of reasons. The first was that the Republican party was not (and still isn’t) fully united around the vote. Republicans also believed that US Representative Al Green would miss the vote since he was in the hospital. He arrived at the Capitol in a wheelchair to cast his vote against impeachment.

Did Any Republicans Vote Against Impeachment?

The Republicans currently hold a slim majority in the House of Representatives with 219 members. The amount for a majority is 213. In the first vote, three Republicans joined with Democrats to vote against impeachment. The three were Ken Buck of Colorado, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, and Tom McClintock of California.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

A fourth Republican, Blake Moore of Utah, also voted against the impeachment. However, he did so for procedural reasons. It was his vote that made the February 13 vote possible. The three Republicans who voted against impeachment have made public statements that the case against Mayorkas is not strong enough and that impeachment could set a dangerous precedent.

One Vote Made The Difference

The difference in the impeachment passing or failing came down to a single vote. The razor-slim margin points to something that’s an ongoing issue in Washington. The divide between the two major political parties seems to be widening every day. Compromise is largely a thing of the past when bipartisanship used to be common.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

It’s clear from the rules for impeachment, which are outlined in the Constitution, that it was intended to be an extraordinary measure taken only to remove officials who had committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.” There are many on the Republican side who believe that threshold has not been met.

Why Did Republicans Vote For Impeachment?

It’s hard not to see the impeachment of Secretary Mayorkas as political. The issue of illegal immigration is one that’s been a bone of contention for a long time. Former President Trump ran on an unfulfilled promise to build a border wall. During his presidency, he aroused fear with talk of a caravan of criminals coming to the US.

Source: Wikimedia/Zach Tirrell

Polls have revealed that many Americans are unhappy with current immigration policies and the situation at the Southern border. It’s likely that Trump and the GOP will use that unhappiness to fight against President Biden’s reelection. Biden will likely counter that the GOP has blocked any attempts to revamp immigration laws.

When Was The Last Time A Cabinet Secretary Was Impeached?

You might be wondering how unusual it is for Congress to impeach a sitting Cabinet member. The answer may shock you. The last time it happened was nearly 150 years ago. The Cabinet member in question was Secretary of War William W. Belknap, who ended up resigning when advised of the impending impeachment vote.

Source: Wikimedia/SecretName101

Belknap was accused of accepting bribes. Despite his resignation, the Senate opted to move ahead with the impeachment trial, pointing out that they believed his resignation was designed to avoid a trial. He was tried on five counts and acquitted on all five, although many of the Senators who voted against conviction believed him to be guilty.

What Has Biden Said About The Impeachment?

It’s not surprising that President Joe Biden was quick to respond to the impeachment of his Homeland Security Secretary. He defended Mayorkas, saying that he has “upheld the rule of law faithfully.” Biden went on to call out the Republicans on their motives for impeachment, warning that such partisan politics are dangerous.

Source: CNN

“History will not look kindly on House Republicans for their blatant act of unconstitutional partisanship that has targeted an honorable public servant in order to play petty political games,” Biden said. It will fall to the Senate to decide Mayorkas’ fate.

Could Mayorkas Be Convicted?

The big question is whether Alejandro Mayorkas will be convicted. The Constitution sets a high standard for conviction, requiring two-thirds of the Senate to vote for conviction to remove an official. That would mean that 67 Senators would need to vote to remove Mayorkas and the Democrats hold a slim majority there.

Source: Tom Williams

Several Republican Senators have been openly critical of the impeachment. Because they’ve cast doubt on the validity of the case, it’s a virtual certainty that Mayorkas will be acquitted. Some experts have stated that there’s a chance that Democrats could avoid a trial altogether.