Politico reported last week that some Republican senators “are openly signaling that even if impeachment managed to squeak through the House, it would quickly die in their chamber — and not just at the hands of the Democratic majority.”
Republican Sen. John Cornyn reflected on whether any member of the administration had taken actions that meet the bar for an impeachable offense. “Not really, no,” the Texan told Politico.
It’s likely that House Republicans are aware of the Senate’s indifference. They also don’t seem to care. The Hill reported yesterday:
House Republicans calling to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas turned up the pressure on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday, with around 20 GOP members and three former Department of Homeland Security officials gathering for a press conference.
Many members spoke at the Capitol Hill event, though my personal favorite was Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who argued in support of Mayorkas’ impeachment by pointing to illicit drugs “seized” at the U.S./Mexico border. (I remain convinced that too many GOP officials don’t know what “seized” means.)
In theory, the most obvious question is whether the secretary who leads the Department of Homeland Security has actually committed any impeachable offenses. By any sensible measure, the answer is no, as even many GOP senators have conceded.
In practice, however, the most salient question appears to be whether the impeachment crusaders will get their way anyway. That answer is a bit murky.
A few weeks before Election Day 2022, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said publicly that no member of the Biden administration deserved to be impeached. Two weeks after the midterm elections, as the GOP leader scrambled to secure the votes he’ll need to become House speaker, McCarthy’s position changed.
“If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign,” McCarthy told reporters, “House Republicans will investigate every order, every action, and every failure [and] will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry.”
This might’ve impressed some of the Californian’s far-right members, but House Republicans will have a small majority next year, and some of the less-conservative members from competitive districts have already expressed great skepticism about the right’s impeachment crusade.
In other words, even if House GOP leaders were to endorse the anti-Mayorkas campaign, the rank-and-file Republicans we heard from yesterday may not have the votes — in their chamber — to succeed. Watch this space.
Postscript: For those wondering about the historical precedent, only one Cabinet secretary has ever been impeached. In 1876, Secretary of War William Belknap was impeached — after leaving office — over alleged bribes. He was later acquitted by the Senate.