(WASHINGTON) — House Majority Leader Steve Scalise plans to return to Capitol Hill this week in time to help his fellow Republicans try again on Tuesday to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — after an embarrassing failed vote last week to impeach him over what they say is his failure to enforce the law on the southern border.
Scalise, who was undergoing treatment for blood cancer, was absent from last week’s vote to impeach Mayorkas — one of the reasons the GOP-led effort failed.
Scalise’s office said in a statement Thursday that he “successfully completed his autologous stem cell treatment and has been medically cleared to resume travel.” The Louisiana Republican is in “complete remission,” the statement said — clearing the way for Scalise to vote with the fellow Republicans to impeach Mayorkas, a historic move.
With Scalise, Republicans could finally have the votes they need to impeach Mayorkas, whom they accuse of “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and “breach of public trust” amid a surge in unauthorized migrant crossings, according to the articles of impeachment. The vote failed last week with a final tally of 214-216 — a crushing defeat for House Republicans.
The impeachment vote is scheduled for Tuesday night, but could change if member attendance is poor.
If the vote is put off, another potential curveball could come with Tuesday’s special election to fill the vacancy left by former Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., in New York’s 3rd Congressional District.
If former Rep. Tom. Suozzi, D-N.Y., prevails over Republican Mazi Pilip for the seat and is sworn in before a second impeachment vote, the impeachment effort is likely to fail again, provided all lawmakers are present and vote the same as last week.
Last week, Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado voted against Mayorkas’ impeachment, telling ABC News’ Jay O’Brien that the secretary had “not committed a high crime or misdemeanor.”
“There is a policy difference,” he said.
Buck was joined by fellow GOP defectors Reps Tom McClintock and Mike Gallagher, who announced over the weekend he won’t run for re-election. They are still expected to vote against impeaching Mayorkas.
If the vote succeeds, it would mark just the second time in U.S. history a Cabinet official has been impeached. The issue would then have to go to trial in the Democrat-controlled Senate, where a two-thirds majority vote would be needed to convict.
On NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Mayorkas repeated that the Republicans’ allegations to impeach him are “baseless.” He said the flood of migrants has been a problem for years and that legislative action is needed to fix the system.
“The system has not been fixed for 30 years. A bipartisan group of senators have now presented us with the tools and resources we need — bipartisan group — and yet, Congress killed it before even reading it,” Mayorkas said.
This past December, there were 302,000 encounters along the southwest border — the highest monthly total ever recorded.
Moderator Kristen Welker pressed Mayorkas on whether he bears the responsibility for the flood of migrants crossing the border — something President Joe Biden called a “crisis.”
“It certainly is a crisis, and, well, we don’t bear responsibility for a broken system, and we’re doing a tremendous amount within that broken system. But, fundamentally, fundamentally, Congress is the only one who can fix that,” Mayorkas said.
Last week, the Senate’s vote to advance a bipartisan foreign aid bill with major border provisions failed — a blow to the Senate negotiators who worked for months with Mayorkas to develop the border deal.
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