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Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before Congress

Mayorkas blasts back as impeachment begins

The House Homeland Security Committee will mark up a resolution today to impeach DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the first time in nearly 150 years that the chamber will try to remove a member of the president’s Cabinet.

The impeachment fight again puts front and center two dynamics that have divided Washington during President Joe Biden’s tenure: the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and House Republicans’ unyielding appetite for political drama over actual legislating.

The reality: Even if House Republicans are successful at impeaching Mayorkas, the Democratic-controlled Senate will certainly acquit him. Meaning this all will have achieved nothing. Mayorkas will still be going to work every day at his office in Southeast D.C.

And at the same time the House Republican Conference is seeking to remove Mayorkas, the party has rejected out of hand the Senate’s emerging bipartisan border security and immigration policy deal.

This is the kind of stuff that makes or breaks House majorities. It will depend as much on who wins the spin war as any floor votes. Speaker Mike Johnson has been moving in this direction for months.

To that end, House Homeland Security Committee Chair Mark Green’s (R-Tenn.) panel will mark up two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas this morning, accusing him of breaching the public trust and willfully ignoring the law.

Here’s some news: Mayorkas, who hasn’t testified before the panel on impeachment, sent a fiery defense to Green this morning calling the effort a political charade.

“Whatever proceedings you initiate, however baseless, my responsiveness to oversight requests will not waiver,” Mayorkas wrote in a letter to Green. “I assure you that your false accusations do not rattle me and do not divert me from the law enforcement and broader public service to which I remain devoted.”

This is the first time Mayorkas has directly responded to Green about the impeachment effort. DHS officials and Homeland Security Committee Republicans have engaged in a lengthy and heated back-and-forth over scheduling in-person testimony.

Mayorkas said he never received a response from Green’s team, despite his willingness to go before the committee. Here’s more from Mayorkas in the letter:

In a statement to us, Green dismissed Mayorkas’ letter, arguing that it’s a weak substitute to live actual testimony.

“This 11th-hour response demonstrates the lack of seriousness with which Secretary Mayorkas views his responsibilities to Congress and to the American people,” Green said.

Today’s proceedings in the Homeland Security panel are expected to be long and testy, although there’s no doubt about the final outcome. Mayorkas’ impeachment will be approved by the committee on a party-line vote.

A floor vote is coming as soon as next week. At this point, it seems as if House Republicans are on the brink of securing the votes to impeach Mayorkas, despite having a paper-thin majority. The GOP leadership hasn’t officially whipped the impeachment resolution and won’t until it clears the committee.

Green made his case to members at a whips meeting on Monday night.

Sources close to the GOP whip operation said they expect a handful of members who haven’t publicly declared their position on impeaching Mayorkas to come out in support of it in the next two days.

Here’s who we’re watching:

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) said on Monday he supports impeaching Mayorkas after initially expressing skepticism that the effort met a high crime or misdemeanor.

Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) has dodged questions from reporters about where he stands on impeachment. Joyce said he wanted to wait until everything was finalized in the committee.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) told us that he won’t decide until the committee has its markup. Sources told us they believe McClintock will be the toughest member to flip.

Rep. Ken Buck’s (R-Colo.) office told us that he is still a “lean no.”

We’ll also note that the right is ready to exact retribution on those who try to tank the floor vote. Remember: Johnson has a one or two-vote margin, depending on the day.

For example, here’s Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) on the impeachment skeptics.

Democrats are united in opposition. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) is running his quixotic campaign for president and Democrats hope he’ll make it back for a floor vote.

We’ll have all the details on the markup in our Midday edition out later today.

Mica Soellner

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