The U.S. House of Representatives delivered a blow to Republican speaker Mike Johnson when it voted on Tuesday against impeaching President Joe Biden’s top border official.
In a 214-216 vote, the House blocked a committee’s impeachment charges against Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Four Republicans bucked their leadership, joining Democrats in opposing the charges against Mayorkas, a Cabinet member.
Partisan fighting over immigration has escalated ahead of the presidential election in November. After the failed impeachment vote, Republicans said they would try again.
“House Republicans fully intend to bring Articles of Impeachment against Secretary Mayorkas back to the floor when we have the votes for passage,” Raj Shah, Johnson’s spokesman, said in a tweet on X.
Republican representative Mike Simpson predicted his leaders would arrange a second vote on Mayorkas once House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, who has been receiving treatment for cancer, gets back from sick leave.
Scalise’s office did not say when he plans to return to work.
Several Republicans, including Simpson, said the failed vote would have no bearing on their party’s investigations of Biden.
The senior Democrat on the House Homeland Security, Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.), said in an interview that the vote was indicative of Republicans “not understanding the gravity of what impeachment is all about.”
The House already was investigating whether any of Biden’s past behavior before moving into the White House might have constituted a high crime or misdemeanor. Some Republicans have said they do not see such evidence yet.
The House’s Homeland Security Committee last week approved two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R., Calif.) said the investigation into Mayorkas had failed to “identify an impeachable crime,” and Rep. Ken Buck (R., Colo.) made a similar statement on Monday.
During debate, McClintock said, “Secretary Mayorkas is guilty of maladministration of our immigration laws on a cosmic scale.” He added, however, that the Constitution does not intend impeachment to be used as a weapon in “political disputes.”
House Republicans allege that Mayorkas was intentionally lax in securing the long border with Mexico and violated the public trust by making false statements to Congress.
Around two million migrants were arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol at the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2023.
Mayorkas has denied any wrongdoing and has defended his tenure.
Democratic representative Richard Neal said it was a mistake for Johnson to bring the Mayorkas impeachment to the floor without first nailing down enough votes, especially given all of the Republican Party’s troubles with revolts over the past year.
“When there’s a stop sign, they don’t stop,” Neal said.