Top 2 Senate Republicans Call for Senate to Take Up Mayorkas Impeachment Trial

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
February 27, 2024Politics
Top 2 Senate Republicans Call for Senate to Take Up Mayorkas Impeachment Trial
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (C) talks to reporters with (L-R) Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. John Barrosso (R-WY) and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) following their party's weekly policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol May 16, 2017 in Washington. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The top two Republicans in the U.S. Senate are calling for the chamber to proceed to an impeachment trial against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas after the Republican-led House of Representatives approved two impeachment articles against Mr. Mayorkas over his handling of U.S. border security.

“The House of Representatives has determined that Secretary Mayorkas has committed impeachable offenses,” Republican Senate Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters at a Tuesday press conference. “That issue will come before the United States Senate. I believe the Senate needs to hold a trial.”

The two House impeachment articles, which were approved in a 214–213 vote on Feb. 13, charge Mr. Mayorkas with wilfull and systemic refusal to enforce existing U.S. immigration and border security, and breaching public trust by making false statements and obstructing congressional investigations into the state of America’s border security.

“It is important that United States senators sit and hear, and the American people hear, about this incredible crisis at our southern border, and people need to be held accountable,” added Mr. Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) followed up on Mr. Thune’s comments, saying a full Senate trial on the impeachment charges against Mr. Mayorkas “would be the best way forward.”

Senate May Dismiss Mayorkas Impeachment Without Trial

Whether or not an impeachment trial proceeds against Mr. Mayorkas would be largely up to the Democrats, who control the Senate.

If Senate Democrats so choose, they could take up a motion to dismiss the impeachment articles altogether, and would only need a simple 51-vote majority for it to succeed. Even moderate Senate Democrats have come out in favor of such a move.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who has at times bucked members of his party, recently told Politico that he would “absolutely” support a motion to dismiss the charges. Mr. Manchin, a red state Democrat who is retiring this year, said a motion to dismiss the charges should be done “immediately.”

Sen. John Tester (D-Mont.), whose state has favored the Republican candidate in every presidential election since 1996, also told Politico he favors dismissing the impeachment charges without a trial, arguing there are better uses for the Senate’s time, like passing a budget to avoid a partial government shutdown.

“I think it’s much more important to keep the government open,” Mr. Tester said. “Much more important to secure the southern border.”

Speaking at the Tuesday press conference, Mr. Thune argued that the Senate should not be so quick to dismiss the case against Mr. Mayorkas.

“I’m sure the Democrats will try to dismiss it, but that we ought to be having a trial conducting a trial in the United States Senate,” the South Dakota Republican said.

Even if an impeachment trial does go forward in the Senate, it would take a two-thirds vote to affirm the impeachment charges to actually remove Mr. Mayorkas from office. With moderate Democrats already coming out in favor of a motion to dismiss the charges without a trial, a Senate vote to convict Mr. Mayorkas appears even less likely.

Even some Senate Republicans have expressed apprehension about holding an impeachment trial.

In January, before the House impeachment vote, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told The Hill that an impeachment trial against Mr. Mayorkas presents “a detour from the important work” Congress is already handling.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) also expressed wariness of impeachment trials becoming a frequent occurrence, telling The Hill, “I don’t think impeachment was something intended to be brought up every three months or every two months.”

Still, the latest comments from the Senate minority leader and Senate minority whip could galvanize Republican support for beginning the impeachment trial.

These latest comments from Mr. McConnell and Mr. Thune come just days after a group of Republican senators organized a letter urging Senate Republican leadership to resist efforts toward a motion to dismiss the impeachment charges and support a full Senate trial.

Speaking at his own press conference on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) did not outright confirm Democratic plans to dismiss the impeachment articles without a trial. Still, Mr. Schumer ridiculed the Republican-led effort against the Homeland Security secretary.

“Look, as I’ve said, the impeachment of Mayorkas is absurd,” Mr. Schumer said when asked about the possibility of a Senate motion to dismiss the impeachment. “There’s not one drop of evidence that leads to any kind of charge of impeachment, and we’re going to handle it in the best way possible.”

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