House Republicans will move forward this week with both the start of impeachment hearings on Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and a contempt vote for Hunter Biden, signaling a new phase in the election-year political battle with the White House and Democrats.
While no Cabinet official has been impeached in nearly 150 years, a House floor vote to remove Mayorkas from office seems very likely later this month or in early February. And as far as we can see right now, it’s likely to pass.
House GOP moderates seem OK with voting to oust Mayorkas, and there may be some vulnerable Democrats who either back the move or skip the vote. If he’s impeached, Mayorkas will face a Senate impeachment trial. He’s almost certain to be acquitted by the Democratic-run Senate, yet this isn’t an easy vote for Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2024.
As we told you last month, the House Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), will take the lead on Mayorkas’ impeachment starting with Wednesday’s hearing. Another hearing is possible next week. The Judiciary Committee, which normally would handle any impeachment proceedings, is focusing on the inquiry into President Joe Biden.
Green has signaled for months that he was ready to impeach Mayorkas, even fundraising off it way back in April. Republicans assert that the Biden administration has lost “operational control” of the U.S.-Mexico border, violating federal law. That will form the central argument in seeking Mayorkas’ removal.
“The legislative branch writes the laws and the executive branch executes those laws. They don’t get to pick and choose which laws,” Green said on Fox News. “And clearly Secretary Mayorkas has basically forced his immigration policy on the country against the laws passed by Congress.”
Mayorkas’ aides and Democrats counter that impeaching the secretary is a political stunt that does nothing to resolve the ongoing border crisis.
“There is no valid basis to impeach Secretary Mayorkas, as senior members of the House majority have attested, and this extreme impeachment push is a harmful distraction from our critical national security priorities,” Mayorkas spokesman Mia Ehrenberg said in a statement.
While there have been a record number of undocumented migrants encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2023, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is also intercepting more fentanyl and removing noncitizens at a very high rate, DHS noted in public statements. And the White House requested $14 billion in additional border security funding in a supplemental request that has been stalled on the Hill for months in partisan fights over both the border and Ukraine.
Mayorkas is involved in the bipartisan Senate talks over changes to border security and immigration policy that have included some major concessions by the Biden administration, especially on asylum policy. There’s no agreement yet, however, and there may not be one. Speaker Mike Johnson has signaled he wants to negotiate directly on this issue with the White House, very likely the only way a border deal could pass the House.
In the other impeachment probe — the House GOP investigation into Biden — Republicans are turning their focus to the president’s son this week.
Flashback to December: Hunter Biden ignored a congressional subpoena to appear for a closed-door deposition to answer questions about his business dealings and any involvement his father had in these activities. The younger Biden and his lawyers pressed for a public hearing.
As a result, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) are holding separate markups on Wednesday on a contempt resolution aimed at Hunter Biden.
Although Hunter Biden has offered to publicly testify, Comer and Jordan say this isn’t acceptable and still represents defiance of a lawfully issued subpoena.
Elsewhere in the Biden investigation, Republicans are framing this month as the time to hear from their top witnesses.
Speaking on Fox News on Sunday, Jordan said he believes a number of key witnesses will appear in January — most notably predicting James Biden will appear. The brother of the president has been in contact with the GOP for months now over a potential date to testify without nailing down a time.
— John Bresnahan and Max Cohen