Senate majority quashes Mayorkas impeachment due to lack of specified crimes - TAI News
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks on the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol, April 17, 2024, in Washington. (Senate Television via AP)

The U.S. Senate voted on April 17 to reject two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, deeming them unconstitutional because the U.S. House of Representatives failed to specify any high crimes or misdemeanors. All 49 Senate Republicans backed a series of delaying motions, stalling for hours in protest of what many misleadingly called an unprecedented action.

Senate Republicans themselves attempted a similar maneuver three years ago.

After two failed attempts, the GOP-led House voted 214-213 on Feb. 6 for an impeachment resolution authored by Georgia Republican Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene. Citing the Biden administration’s immigration policies, they accused Mayorkas of “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and “breach of public trust.” California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock noted, however, that the articles “fail to identify an impeachable crime that Mayorkas has committed.”

At the time, several Senate Republicans denounced impeachment as time wasting. North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer called it “the dumbest exercise and use of time,” telling HuffPost the articles were “obviously dead on arrival” in the Senate. 

Worried that the Senate would not hold a lengthy trial, House Republicans delayed transmitting the articles for more than two months before finally delivering them on April 16. 

A day later, after Missouri Republican Sen. Eric Schmitt blocked a Democratic proposal to allow a few hours for a trial, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) raised points of order that both impeachment articles were unconstitutional

Though Senate rules prohibited debate on Schumer’s motions, Republican senators took turns denouncing it and offering motions to hold a longer debate or adjourn. One senator proposed to adjourn until April 30. After that motion failed, another proposed to adjourn until May 1. A third attempted to adjourn until November. Each motion failed 51-49, along party lines.

“Our colleagues know that we are obligated to take these proceedings seriously. This is what our oath prescribes. It’s what the history and precedent require, and I would urge each of our colleagues to consider that this is what the framers actually envisioned,” argued Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “This process must not be abused; it must not be short-circuited. History will not judge this moment well.”

McConnell had joined 44 Republican colleagues on January 26, 2021, in voting to table articles of impeachment charging former President Donald Trump with incitement of insurrection. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul had made that motion, arguing it was unconstitutional to try someone who is no longer in office.

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson was one of the 45 senators who voted to skip the 2021 impeachment trial.

After the Senate voted to reject both articles of impeachment against Mayorkas and to adjourn, Johnson’s office claimed in a press release: “Senate Democrats abdicated their constitutional duty and did great harm to the U.S. Senate by cavalierly dismissing the serious charges against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. They did so, because they do not want the American people to see how disastrous their open border policy is.”

Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin said in her own press release: “Impeachment is a sacred and solemn duty of Congress that is solely reserved to hold those accountable for high crimes and misdemeanors. This is a responsibility that I do not take lightly. Unfortunately, what we had in front of us today entirely failed to meet that high standard, lacked evidence, and was just an attempt to score cheap political points, while moving us no closer to fixing the real issues we face at our Southern border. … This week should have been spent working to pass our bipartisan border compromise – one that would secure our border, curb the flow of fentanyl into the country, and fix parts of our broken immigration system – not playing partisan political games.”

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