Marshall introduces vote of no confidence resolution for Mayorkas

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) on Thursday introduced a vote of no confidence resolution for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the first effort in the Senate to mirror impeachment efforts percolating in the House.

The resolution comes after Marshall said during an exchange with Mayorkas in a Senate appearance on Tuesday that the secretary was derelict in his duties and, “I would be derelict to not do something about this.”

The nine-page resolution lays out a series of complaints about the state of the border, blaming Mayorkas for everything from increased migration, including attempts to clear a camp of some 15,000 Haitians near the Texas border, to drug flows and overdoses.

"There isn't one American who believes our southern border is secure,” Marshall said in a release. 

“In the real world, if you fail at your job, you get fired — the federal government should be no different.”

The resolution would have little effect if passed — an uphill battle in the Democrat-led Senate, and it would not have any bearing on impeachment efforts in the House, which have still not formally taken shape. 

The resolution also points to an argument building in the House that Mayorkas was dishonest before Congress — a case built on the secretary asserting in prior appearances that he has maintained control of the border.

The GOP argues that Mayorkas is failing to meet the definition of operational control laid out under the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which says the standard has only been met if the country prohibits “all unlawful entries” of both migrants and drugs.

Mayorkas recently told lawmakers that the standard of perfection laid out under the law has never been met, but it encourages the secretary to use all resources at their disposal to improve security.

“The Secure Fence Act provides that operational control means that not a single individual crosses the border illegally. And it’s for that reason that prior secretaries and myself have said that under that definition, no administration has had operational control,” Mayorkas said.

“As I have testified under oath multiple times, we use a lens of reasonableness in defining operational control. Are we maximizing the resources that we have to deliver the most effective results? And under that definition, we are doing so very much to gain operational control.”

With escalating impeachment discussions, the Department of Homeland Security has also called on Congress to do more to address problems with the U.S. immigration system that exacerbate efforts to enter and remain in the country illegally.

“Instead of pointing fingers and pursuing baseless attacks, Congress should work with the Department and pass legislation to fix our broken immigration system, which has not been updated in over 40 years,” the agency said in a statement.

While numerous House lawmakers have expressed an interest in impeaching Mayorkas, the process has not yet begun. If successful, an impeachment resolution would be forwarded to the Democrat-led Senate.

Heated GOP grilling of Mayorkas leads to pledge to ‘dial the rhetoric down’

Republicans gave a preview Wednesday of a still materializing impeachment case against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, zeroing in on a 2006 law that requires a standard of perfection at the border.

But what started as a fiery hearing filled with attacks on Mayorkas ended with promises to tone down the rhetoric and move towards civility in the House Homeland Security Committee — a panel with numerous members who have pledged to remove the secretary from office.

The GOP on Wednesday repeatedly referenced the Secure Fence Act of 2006, a law that defines operational control as achieved when there is not a single unlawful entry of either migrants or drugs at the border. 

Chair Mark Green (R-Tenn.) and other Republicans played numerous clips of Mayorkas previously answering questions about whether he has maintained operational control of the border — a tactic that comes after Green reportedly told donors at a fundraiser to “get the popcorn” ready ahead of the hearing.

Green rattled off a series of policies rolled out under the Biden administration, including the rescission of some Trump-era policies, though the current administration has alienated immigration advocates by retaining others. 

“You have not secured our borders, Mr. Secretary, and I believe you've done so intentionally. There is no other explanation for the systematic dismantling and transformation of our border,” he said. 

Several Republicans on the committee, including Green, leveled a series of accusations against Mayorkas, using their full five minutes for speeches, without asking questions of Mayorkas or allowing him to respond.

“I have no interest in asking the secretary any questions because he obfuscates and lies,” said  Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) after arguing Mayorkas had “failed your country.”

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the top Democrat on the committee, defended Mayorkas, pointing to reporting from The New York Times about Green’s comments to donors.

“I was dismayed to see that speaking to a group of campaign contributors last week about today's hearing the Chairman said, and I quote, ‘Get the popcorn. It's going to be fun.’ I think that tells Americans all they need to know about the Republican agenda here,” Thompson said.

“They don't want solutions to homeland security challenges. They want to make a headline or photo opp. They want a political wedge issue and something to talk to their deep-pocketed donors about more than they want to work together to get things done.”

Green later said the article misquoted him. He did not specify how but detailed he has no power to impeach Mayorkas, noting such a move would fall to the House Judiciary Committee and that his role is limited to oversight.

Republicans used much of the hearing to dissect Mayorkas’s previous statements on operational control of the border.

Mayorkas has repeatedly maintained he has control of the border, but the GOP has seized on prior comments from Border Patrol Chief Raúl Ortiz who answered “no” when asked if the department was meeting the high standard set under the Secure Fence Act.

It was a line Green said “told the truth” about the situation at the border.

Mayorkas on Wednesday said he was previously cut off by lawmakers from giving nuance to earlier answers, arguing the law leaves much discretion to the secretary in determining how to manage the border while the standard itself has never been met.

“The Secure Fence Act provides that operational control means that not a single individual crosses the border illegally. And it's for that reason that prior secretaries and myself have said that under that definition, no administration has had operational control,” Mayorkas said.

“As I have testified under oath multiple times, we use a lens of reasonableness in defining operational control. Are we maximizing the resources that we have to deliver the most effective results? And under that definition, we are doing so very much to gain operational control.”

Democrats took turns defending Mayorkas.

Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.) accused Republicans of having “such short memories … with respect to the situation at the Southern border.” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) rattled off a list of Trump-era policies, including family separation, prompting Mayorkas to say they not only failed to achieve operational control but “disobeyed our values as a country.”

Thompson turned to the archives, citing comments from GOP lawmakers from when the Secure Fence Act was first passed, citing concerns over the standard it set, including Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), a member of the committee who worked on the legislation.

“When you put this number as a metric in the definition of operational control, you make it impossible to achieve operational control. Perfection shouldn't be the enemy of the good,” McCaul said at the time, according to a portion of the transcript read aloud by Thompson.

Republicans, however, took issue with Mayorakas’s explanation, arguing the secretary has no right to interpret the laws passed by Congress.

“Congress set an objective in law. You haven't pursued it,” said Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.).  “Who are you to displace the legal definition of operational control by this Congress in favor of pursuing one of your own invention?”

Rep. Daniel Goldman (D-N.Y.), who played a central role in the impeachment of then-President Trump, later pounced on Bishop’s phrasing.

“I have a little experience with impeachment and I can tell you, as well as everybody else, that there is no grounds for impeachment based on a policy dispute. And there is absolutely nothing that I've seen here today that amounts to a false statement under oath,” he said.

“In fact, Mr. Bishop, my colleague, in referencing operational control and that standard, stated himself that it is an objective. It is the objective of the Department of Homeland Security to have operational control and, as you pointed out, that is to allow no unlawful entry into this country. That, of course, is an impossible standard.”

Other Republicans sought to hold Mayorkas accountable with other methods.

One lawmaker brought a series of charts with multiple questions. Two others brought guests to the hearing, including parents of children that had died of a fentanyl overdose and the family of victims who died after a man carrying migrants crashed into their car while seeking to evade police in a high-speed chase. 

The committee’s proceedings came to an almost 20-minute standstill following comments from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) accusing Mayorkas of lying.

Green agreed to a motion from Democrats to take down her words, ultimately resulting in the loss of her speaking privileges during the hearing.

It was a complex turn of events given that many Republicans at prior points in the hearing accused Mayorkas of being dishonest before Congress, though none, as Greene did, labeled him a liar.

Still, the hearing ended on a tone much different from how it started, with Thompson and Green both speaking to the need to maintain decorum during proceedings.

Thompson said the two men had "sidebarred" about the language used, noting other nations keep tabs on Congressional proceedings — “our adversaries look at us,” he warned.

“You and I pledge that going forward, we'll make every effort to get back to the civility that this committee has been known for,” Thompson said.

Green echoed that in his own closing remarks.

“I agree with the former chairman, now ranking member, that we disagree on a lot of policies. We really do. And we don't have to despise someone because they disagree with us. We don't have to disparage someone because they disagree with us,” Green said. 

“And we do need to dial the rhetoric down in the country and apparently in the committee.”

Mayorkas says his critics on Capitol Hill ‘will not force’ him out

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a new interview that he will not be pushed out of his position amid efforts from some House Republicans to impeach him.

"They will not force me out," he told CNN's Chris Wallace on Sunday's episode of "Who's Talking to Chris Wallace."

Many House Republicans have repeatedly called to impeach Mayorkas, arguing that the secretary does not have "operational control" of the border despite repeated claims the border is secure.

Two articles of impeachment have now been levied against Mayorkas this year, alleging that Mayorkas lied to Congress about having control of the border and that he has failed in his duties to control the border.

The GOP's impeachment case against him is dependent on a 2006 law that states operational control of the border is defined as the prevention "of all unlawful entries." Critics have argued that this definition of operational control was commonly seen as impossible to meet.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called on Mayorkas to resign in November, saying that a House investigation will determine if an impeachment inquiry is warranted. The Department of Homeland Security has previously said that Mayorkas has no plans to resign.

Mayorkas said that he takes calls for his impeachment "seriously" and that he intends to appear before Congress when he is called to.

"I take them seriously," he said. "It is the leadership of the House that provided those remarks. I don't dismiss it by any measure, but what I do is I focus on my work."

He also added that he does not think he has done anything wrong.

"I think it is a disagreement over policy," he said. "And I think it is used for political purposes to continue a negative dialogue about a migration challenge that is not unique to the United States, to continue that dialogue to uplift it for political reasons."

The impeachment of cabinet members has been exceedingly rare throughout U.S. history.

Former President Grant’s secretary of war, William Belknap, was the only Cabinet member to be impeached in history. He resigned in 1876 before he would have been likely convicted for taking kickbacks for appointing a contractor to run a trading post in Oklahoma.