House Republican warns of Pandora's box in explaining vote against Mayorkas impeachment

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Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) argued a vote to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas would have “opened Pandora’s box” in a recent op-ed.

Gallagher was one of three Republicans to vote against the bill, which ultimately caused it to fail.

“[Mayorkas’s] performance has been a disgrace,” Gallagher wrote Tuesday in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, published Tuesday. “But I disagree with my Republican colleagues who voted on Tuesday to impeach Mr. Mayorkas. Impeachment not only would fail to resolve Mr. Biden’s border crisis but would also set a dangerous new precedent that would be used against future Republican administrations.”

The vote failed on a razor-thin margin Tuesday evening after Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) unexpectedly appeared in the chamber after being expected to miss the vote due to an emergency surgery. Green voted in hospital scrubs and socks, NBC reported.

Gallagher was joined by Reps. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) in going against the bill. Buck previously committed to a no vote in an op-ed for The Hill, and McClintock also announced his opposition, making Gallagher the deciding vote.

GOP leaders argued that Mayorkas was responsible for what they characterized as a complete failure in border policy, and that he should be impeached for gross incompetence in his role.

Gallagher, Buck and McClintock did not defend Mayorkas’s job performance, but argued that Congress should not impeach a Cabinet official for merely executing the president’s policies, even if lawmakers believe they are the wrong policies.

“The first article of impeachment lays out in grueling detail Mr. Mayorkas’s manifest incompetence,” Gallagher wrote. “But incompetence doesn’t rise to the level of high crimes or misdemeanors.” 

“Proponents of impeachment concede the framers rejected the idea that policy disputes or ‘maladministration’ constitute grounds for impeachment,” he continued. “They argue instead that Mr. Mayorkas’s underenforcement goes beyond maladministration, even though it doesn’t reach the level of a criminal offense.”

The Wisconsin Republican argued that the “maladmistration” standard that impeachment proponents supported would put every future Cabinet official at risk of impeachment.

“The Treasury and State departments’ nonenforcement of sanctions against Iran has emboldened a regime that is killing Americans in the Middle East,” the lawmaker wrote. “The defense secretary is clearly violating the Hyde Amendment by allowing defense travel funds to be used to facilitate abortions.”

“These decisions—however reprehensible—aren’t high crimes or misdemeanors but would be impeachable under the new standard,” Gallagher added.

He continued, claiming the person who is “chiefly responsible” for the “chaos and devastation” at the southern border is President Biden, not Mayorkas.

“If Mr. Mayorkas were removed, his replacement would also implement Mr. Biden’s disastrous border policies,” he warned. “If anything, impeaching Mr. Mayorkas would absolve Mr. Biden of blame for his own policies.”

The Mayorkas vote was a blow to the House GOP, as the measure was boosted by Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.). As recently as hours before the vote, Johnson said he was confident that it would pass.

Republicans also lost a second consequential vote Tuesday night, a funding package for Israel aid. The measure needed two-thirds support to pass but received just 58 percent of votes on the floor.

Johnson said he plans to pursue a “Plan B” of passing the Israel aid bill under a procedural rule next week, which would only require a bare majority vote.

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