Senate Kills Mayorkas’ Impeachment Effort Without a Trial

Allison Bailey/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images
Allison Bailey/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Senate voted along party lines to dismiss two articles of impeachment against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday, ending the proceedings before arguments began and bringing the first impeachment of a sitting cabinet secretary to an ignominious close.

The vote against the first article, which charged Mayorkas with “willful and systemic refusal to comply” with immigration law, was 51-48, with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voting “present.” For the second article, concerning “breach of trust,” Murkowski joined her colleagues, bringing the final tally to 51-49.

It marks the first time in 225 years that the Senate immediately dismissed impeachment charges approved by the house, rather than holding a full floor trial or referring the issue to a special committee, according to The Hill.

The Biden administration lauded the outcome, with Ian Sams, White House spokesperson for oversight and investigations calling the proceedings a “baseless impeachment that even conservative legal scholars said was unconstitutional.”

A Homeland Security spokesperson said in a statement that Wednesday’s decision proved definitively that there was never any evidence or Constitutional grounds to justify the impeachment.

“It’s time for Congressional Republicans to support the Department’s vital mission instead of wasting time playing political games and standing in the way of commonsense, bipartisan border reforms,” she said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) moved to dismiss the charges against the secretary near the top of Wednesday’s session, saying it was necessary. “For the sake of the Senate’s integrity and to protect impeachment for those rare cases we truly need it, senators should dismiss today’s charges,” he said, according to the Associated Press.

“Talk about awful precedents,” he added later. “This would set an awful precedent for Congress. Every time there’s a policy agreement in the House, they send it over here and tie the Senate in knots to do an impeachment trial? That’s absurd. That’s an abuse of the process. That is more chaos.”

Before that, however, Schumer offered Republicans a chance to debate the trial procedure and weigh several resolutions and points of order. When Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-MO) objected out of hand, Schumer instead moved on to dismiss the first article on the grounds that “it does not allege conduct that rises to the level of a high crime or misdemeanor” as required in the U.S. Constitution.

Republicans then attempted to throw up several procedural hurdles, calling to adjourn until the end of the month or until after the 2024 presidential election. All their motions failed on party-line votes.

The entire process took place over the course of roughly three hours.

Mayorkas became just the second Cabinet secretary in U.S. history to face impeachment proceedings when the Republican-controlled House voted to charge him in February with the articles of impeachment. House impeachment managers delivered the charges to the Senate on Tuesday in the hopes that they would be able to lay out their case in a full trial.

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