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Johnson says House will hold Mayorkas impeachment vote "as soon as possible"

Republican efforts to impeach Mayorkas
Breaking down Republican efforts to impeach DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas 04:25

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Friday that the House will vote on whether to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas "as soon as possible," moving forward with punishing the secretary over the administration's handling of the U.S.-Mexico border as early as next week.

Johnson also warned that a Senate draft proposal to overhaul key parts of the nation's immigration system "would have been dead on arrival in the House," raising further questions about the future of ongoing immigration talks in the upper chamber.

In a letter to colleagues on Friday, Johnson alleged that President Biden and Mayorkas have "willfully ignored and actively undermined our nation's immigration laws," and said the House Homeland Security Committee would advance articles of impeachment against the secretary when lawmakers return to Washington next week. The committee recently held impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill. 

GOP lawmakers claim Mayorkas has failed to live up to his responsibilities as homeland security secretary. The Department of Homeland Security and congressional Democrats have dismissed the effort as a politically motivated stunt.

"When we return next week, by necessity, the House Homeland Security Committee will move forward with Articles of Impeachment against Secretary Mayorkas," Johnson wrote in his letter. "A vote on the floor will be held as soon as possible thereafter." 

But Democrats and even some conservative skeptics of impeachment say Mayorkas hasn't committed an impeachable offense. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, called the impeachment effort "inept and inappropriate." 

House Holds Hearing On Impeachment Of DHS Secretary Mayorkas
GOP Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, delivers opening remarks at the first impeachment hearing for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Jan. 10, 2024.  Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Republicans hold a narrow majority in the lower chamber, and can afford few defections if the impeachment effort is to succeed. If it does, Mayorkas would be just the second Cabinet secretary to be impeached in American history, and the first since 1876.

Record numbers of migrants have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, at times reaching 10,000 crossings a day. The Biden administration has pursued a strategy of opening more legal pathways to enter the U.S. in an effort to deter illegal crossings, but thousands of migrants have continued to arrive at the border, straining state, local and federal resources.

Asked last week if the border is secure, Mr. Biden said, "No, it is not," adding that he doesn't believe it has been secure for the last decade.

Senate immigration talks

On the legislative front, White House negotiators and a bipartisan group of senators have been hammering away for weeks to craft a bipartisan proposal that would include major changes to the nation's immigration system as part of a broader bill to provide funding for Ukraine, Israel and other national security needs. 

But Johnson and House Republicans have not been part of those talks, and the potential for former President Donald Trump to oppose any border agreement briefly threw a wrench in the effort earlier this week, as CBS News has reported. Johnson reiterated House Republicans' opposition to several aspects of a potential deal, and said the Senate should instead take up a House-passed bill with stricter immigration measures.

"If rumors about the contents of the draft proposal are true, it would have been dead on arrival in the House anyway," Johnson wrote about the Senate talks. " 

Johnson didn't rule out the possibility of accepting an eventual agreement the Senate reaches, but said, "I have assured our Senate colleagues the House would not accept any counterproposal if it would not actually solve the problems that have been created by the administration's subversive policies." 

"If President Biden wants us to believe he is serious about protecting our national sovereignty, he needs to demonstrate his good faith by taking immediate actions to secure it. He should sign an order right now to end the mass release of illegals and dangerous persons into our country," he wrote. If he wants our conference to view him as a good faith negotiator, he can start with the stroke of a pen."

Scott MacFarlane contributed to this report.

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