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House set to vote on Homeland Security secretary

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas looks up during a Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on the department’s budget request on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 26, 2021.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

The House of Representatives will hold a key vote Monday on whether to move forward with a Republican-backed motion to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

The vote comes as the House scrambles to negotiate a new budget resolution to avoid a government shutdown. Congress has only four days left until the temporary spending bill adopted in late September expires at 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday.

On Monday, House lawmakers are expected to vote on a Democratic procedural effort to derail the Mayorkas impeachment. The vote will also serve as a barometer of support among Republicans for the impeachment, a crucial data point for newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., in a very closely divided chamber.

Johnson has yet to say whether he intends to move ahead right away with the impeachment vote if there is sufficient support among Republicans, or wait until later in the week.

If the impeachment motion passes in the Republican-majority House, Mayorkas will face a trial in the Democratic-majority Senate, where it is difficult to see a path to the two-thirds majority needed to remove Mayorkas from his post.

But the House vote comes amid a separate internal debate among Republicans over whether to move forward with the impeachment of a much bigger target: President Joe Biden. What happens in Mayorkas’ case could hold lessons for the party on this front.

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The push to impeach Mayorkas is being led by high-profile GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who alleges Mayorkas has violated his oath of office by failing to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

Greene first introduced impeachment articles against Mayorkas in May. But her most recent motion last week requires the House to hold a vote. According to the impeachment motion, Mayorkas has specifically “failed to maintain operational control of the border.”

As defined by the Secure Fence Act of 2006, “operational control” means preventing “all unlawful entries.” Mayorkas has repeatedly pointed out that no administration, Republican or Democrat, has succeeded in upholding that standard.

Republicans have been threatening to impeach Mayorkas over the migrant crisis for at least a year.

A migrant climbs the border fence to cross into the U.S. to request asylum, at Playas de Tijuana, in Tijuana, Mexico October 2, 2023.

Jorge Duenes | Reuters

The number of migrants crossing into the U.S. began to rise during the Trump administration, and reached record highs last year. Many of them are fleeing gang violence and unstable political environments in places like Venezuela and Haiti.

The decisions by several Republican governors in border states to transport newly arrived migrants to big cities and drop them off has added fuel to the debate, put new pressure on Washington to provide more money to help house and care for immigrants.

As of September, the state of Texas had transported more than 30,000 migrants on buses to cities across the country.

Last month, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois criticized the federal government’s management of the migrant crisis.

“There is much more that can and must be done on a federal level to address a national humanitarian crisis that is currently being shouldered by state and local governments without support,” he said.

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