The new House Republican majority is now flexing their muscles with hearings on China, education policy, pandemic learning loss and "woke" policies in schools, and Hunter Biden and his laptop.
House Republicans timed a hearing on the border crisis to just hours before President Biden delivered his State of the Union address.
The border may be 1,700 miles from Washington, D.C., but Republicans brought the border front lines to the front lines of Capitol Hill. The border and illegal immigration are sizzling issues with the GOP base, so it is only natural that Republicans would make this a priority in the new Congress.
The Biden Administration initially blocked the specific border agents who Republicans requested for testimony before the House Oversight Committee. The Department of Homeland Security finally relented — but sent other agents.
HOUSE REPUBLICANS PRESS HUNTER BIDEN, JAMES BIDEN, ERIC SCHWERIN FOR BUSINESS DEAL DOCUMENTS
"After two years of gaslighting, obstruction, stonewalling and lies, we’re finally able to hear straight from the source," said Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C.
Republicans hoped to blame President Biden for the border crisis.
"The policies put in place by this administration have opened the door for dangerous individuals - including but not limited to - terrorists to cross into our nation undetected," said Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich.
One witness testified that President Biden was to blame for the surge of migrants indirectly.
"The vast majority of (migrants) were saying that they believed that when the administration changed, the law and policy changed," said John Modlin, the Chief Border Patrol agent from Tucson, Ariz.
Republicans underscored the plight of those who protect the border.
"I have seen the despair in Border Patrol agents faces. Their morale is certainly decreasing," said Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo.
One agent who testified — Gloria Chavez, chief patrol agent of the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) sector — backed up Boebert.
"In the last two years, Border Patrol has had 13 suicides. Five in RGV. And it's a terrible thing that we experience," testified Chavez.
The agents painted a damning picture of the border plight.
"In the Tucson sector last year, we seized about 700 pounds of fentanyl. To give you an idea based on the lethality of a dose of fentanyl, that's enough to kill everyone in Arizona 21 times," said Modlin.
However, Democrats say additional interdictions are a good thing.
HOUSE DEM CLAIMS SPIKE IN FENTANYL SEIZED AT BORDER IS A 'SUCCESS'
"The facts show we are seizing a lot more fentanyl. And for me, as a mom, that is a sign of success. I don't want that fentanyl in this country. It is dangerous and it kills people and it makes our communities dangerous. And to me, this is a sign that our border patrol and our agents at our ports of entry, which is, of course, where the vast majority of the fentanyl is seized, as you've acknowledged, are doing their jobs," said Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif.
The session sparked hyperbole on both sides.
"I just wonder what the real agenda is here for an open border?" asked Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala.
One Republican alleged that a porous border was part of a grand Machiavellian administration plot
"Why would Biden do this?" asked Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., about the administration’s border policy. "To create chaos? Sow discord? What is the answer to this mess for Biden and the Democrats? More big brother. More control. Even changing our culture."
However, Gosar offered no evidence to back up his assertions. However, Republicans did not monopolize inflammatory accusations.
A tweet from the formal Twitter feed of House Oversight Committee Democrats argued that Republicans conducted the hearing to propound "white nationalist conspiracy theories."
"Migrants are increasingly dehumanized as a direct result of Republican xenophobic rhetoric," claimed Washington, D.C., Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton.
"This isn’t about oversight," said Rep. Maxwell Frost, D-Fla. "It’s about stoking the fears of immigrants and those seeking asylum."
Congressional Democrats regularly call out the Twitter feed of House Judiciary Republicans for caustic messages. Republicans returned the favor.
"This comment that we’re having this hearing to amplify White conspiracy theories is one of the most offensive things I’ve seen since I’ve been here," said Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wisc.
"For my colleagues who want to state that we’re using this hearing for White nationalism? I’m not doing that," said Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla. "Leave that kind of silly stuff for somebody else. Don’t bring that here today."
Republicans intensified attacks against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
"I think he’s an embarrassment and should step down," lectured Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Tex. "We do not have confidence in your department."
Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Tex., asserted that agents possessed the wherewithal to control the border. "We have the manpower. We have technology. What we lack, Mr. Chairman, is Alejandro Mayorkas’s will and Joe Biden’s will to do so," said Fallon.
HOUSE REPUBLICANS CALL FOR IMPEACHMENT OF HOMELAND SECRETARY MAYORKAS AHEAD OF STATE OF THE UNION
It remains unclear if the GOP would ever have the votes to impeach Mayorkas. The House has not impeached a cabinet secretary since 1876. Impeachment would toss red meat to the conservative hardliners. However, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is trying to take a measured approach – despite the internal push from the right.
At some point, Republican voters will ask why the GOP House has not impeached Mayorkas or even President Biden. That is why Republicans want to focus as much as they can on the border. It presents a narrative that they’re working on the issue — even if they never get to impeachment.
Some Democrats tried to reframe the border calamity.
"What we are seeing on the southern border is a crisis. But it’s not a crisis our friends across the aisle would have us believe," said Rep. Melanie Stansbury, D-N.M. "It is truly a humanitarian crisis."
Stansbury spoke of how she lost relatives to fentanyl, "It is an absolute crisis to know the pain of what it feels like to lose someone to fentanyl. It’s something that I think many people in this room do not understand," continued Stansbury. "Let’s talk about these issues in reality and not try to score political brownie points and get on cable TV."
However, the hearing seemingly helped Democrats and Republicans alike achieve the benchmarks of which Stansbury spoke. Both sides scored political brownie points with their respective bases. And, they got on cable TV.