The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the House trying to impeach Mayorkas next week

House Republicans are aiming to tee up debate and a floor vote next week to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

As of this Friday, the House Rules Committee has not officially put impeachment on its schedule for Monday. But Fox is told that that could happen over the weekend if Republicans are satisfied with the whip count on impeachment. At this stage, the Rules Committee is only slated to prep a water-permitting bill for the floor at its meeting Monday. The two impeachment articles must go to the Rules Committee before heading to the floor.

If the Rules Committee prepares the articles of impeachment on Monday, the full House could debate and vote on impeaching Mayorkas as early as Tuesday. If the Rules Committee meeting slips to Tuesday, then floor action on Mayorkas will likely shift to Wednesday. 

And even if the Rules Committee convenes on Mayorkas, the House won’t necessarily need to bring those articles of impeachment to the floor right away if the GOP brass is concerned about the vote count. 

MAYORKAS IMPEACHMENT ARTICLES APPROVED BY COMMITTEE, SETTING UP FULL HOUSE VOTE

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas speaks at a news conference on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, ahead of the lifting of Title 42. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf) (Kevin Wolf)

The decision to go to the floor is about the math. 

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., resigns Friday to run an arts organization in western New York. When the House returns on Monday, it will have 431 members — 219 Republicans and 212 Democrats. That’s a seven seat majority. And the retirement of Higgins helps the GOP make the math work in their impeachment quest. With a delta of seven seats between the majority and minority, Republicans can now lose three votes on their side and pass something without assistance from Democrats. The margin was two votes prior to Higgins stepping down. 

But it’s more complicated than that. 

It is doubtful that House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., will be back next week after receiving cancer treatments. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., should return after being injured in a car accident. But there are always a handful of members out on any given day for health and other reasons. So if Republicans go to the floor to impeach Mayorkas, they need to make sure everyone who is a yea on impeachment is present. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., is a no right now. Johnson told Fox Business Friday morning that he would work on Buck this weekend. 

So, if things go the way the GOP leadership wants, the House could vote on Tuesday or Wednesday to impeach Mayorkas. If the leadership doesn’t put impeachment on the floor, the math won’t work. 

Keep in mind that the Republican hand could either get better or worse if for some reason the House doesn’t vote next week on impeachment. 

Scalise speaks to media in Washington, DC

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise will be back next week after receiving cancer treatments. (Anna Moneymaker)

There is a special election in New York on February 13 to replace former Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., who was expelled. Former Rep. Tom Suozzi, R-N.Y., is running against GOP nominee Mazi Melesa Pilip. If Suozzi wins, the GOP majority shrinks again. But a Pilip victory serves as a Republican reinforcement. 

HESITANT REPUBLICANS COULD DERAIL MAYORKAS IMPEACHMENT EFFORT

If and when the House votes, it considers two articles of impeachment. One accuses Mayorkas of disregarding the law. The other charges Mayorkas of lying to Congress, saying the border was secure. 

The House will likely vote on each article separately. Mayorkas would be impeached if the House adopts either article. Moreover, the House does not always approve both articles of impeachment in such an inquest. In 1997, the House only adopted two of the four articles of impeachment leveled against former President Clinton. 

Think of impeachment as an indictment. It’s then up to the Senate to act as a “court” and judge whether the accused is guilty of the charges in a trial. 

The impeachment of cabinet officials is rare. The House has now impeached multiple Presidents and federal judges. But only one cabinet member, Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876. 

George Santos

There is a special election in New York on February 13 to replace former Rep. George Santos who was expelled. (Tom Williams)

If the House approves impeachment articles, it must next take a separate vote to appoint “impeachment managers.” It then dispatches the article or articles of impeachment to the Senate. 

“Impeachment managers” are House members who serve as prosecutors. They present the findings of the House before the Senate. Senators sit as jurors. 

Fox is told that the House wants to get the impeachment articles to the Senate quickly after the vote. The Senate is trying to consider a major border security bill next week. So there could be a bit of a parliamentary traffic jam as the Senate potentially grapples with both the border bill and maybe the start a Senate trial. But it’s also possible a trial could wait until the week of Feb. 11. 

T,his scenario produces a rather shocking split screen. The Senate is dealing with a border security bill as it entertains an impeachment trial against the Homeland Security Secretary. 

OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE SAYS GOP IMPEACHING ‘TRAITOR’ MAYORKAS A ‘NO BRAINER’: ‘GROTESQUELY UNQUALIFIED’

There is a bit of a ceremony to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate from the House and for the Senate to receive the articles. In this case, Acting Clerk of the House Kevin McCumber and House Sergeant at Arms William McFarland escort the articles of impeachment and House managers across the Capitol Dome to the Senate. The Senate gathers, usually with all senators sitting at their desks. Senate Sergeant at Arms Karen Gibson then receives the House entourage at the Senate door and reads the following proclamation to the Senate. 

Migrants and a border official near the border wall

Migrants who crossed the border trough the Rio Bravo from Mexico into the U.S. wait next to the U.S. border wall where U.S. Border Patrol agents stand guard on March 30, 2023, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.  (Getty Images)

“All persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States articles of impeachment against Alejandro Nicholas Mayorkas.” 

The articles are then presented to the Senate and the managers are introduced. That is all which usually happens on the first day of a Senate trial – although Fox was told the Senate might try to squeeze everything 

Under Senate impeachment trial rule III, the body is supposed to wait until the next day to swear-in senators as jurors. But Fox is told that could happen on day one in this instance. 

According to Senate rules, the “trial” must begin the day after the Senate receives the articles at 1 p.m. Trials are supposed to run Monday through Saturday. There were Saturday sessions in both impeachment trials of former President Trump in 2020 and 2021. 

It is unlikely that U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over a possible Mayorkas trial. Senate impeachment rule IV requires the Chief Justice to preside over cases involving the President or Vice President. In this case, it’s likely that Senate President Pro Tempore Patty Murray, D-Wash., will preside over a Mayorkas tribunal.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before House Homeland Security Committee on Capitol Hill

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before a House Homeland Security Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Sarah Silbiger)

Now we get to perhaps the most interesting question of all: How much of a trial is there? 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., ducked questions from yours truly last fall about what a potential impeachment trial for President Biden or Mayorkas would look like. 

Schumer again sidestepped a question this week when asked if he would “hold” a trial. “Let’s wait and see what the House does,” replied Schumer. 

But regardless, the Senate cannot immediately bypass a trial. If the House impeaches, the Senate is compelled to at least receive the impeachment articles, the House managers and swear-in the senators. 

At that point, the Senate can decide to hold a full trial, or potentially, move to dismiss or actually have straight, up or down votes on convicting or exonerating Mayorkas. 

In the 1998 impeachment trial of former President Clinton, late Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., made a motion to dismiss the charges. 

In 2010, the Senate was on the verge of launching an impeachment trial of former federal judge Samuel Kent, but he resigned after the House impeached him and before the Senate began the trial. The House notified the Senate it did not want to continue with the trial. So the Senate eventually conducted a vote to discharge itself of responsibilities regarding Kent. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

Schumer sidestepped a question this week when asked if he would “hold” a trial. “Let’s wait and see what the House does,” replied Schumer.  (Tom Williams)

The Senate could so something similar this time. 

But here’s the rub: There will eventually be either a vote to convict or exonerate Mayorkas or dismiss the charges. Senate Republicans will watch very closely if Senate Democrats engineer any vote to short-circuit the trial. The GOP will take note of how multiple vulnerable Democrats facing competitive re-election bids in battleground districts vote.

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If they vote to end the trial or clear Mayorkas, Republicans will likely enroll that into their campaigns against those Democratic senators. Keep in mind that Fox polling data revealed that border security was the number-one issue facing voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. Republicans will examine the trial-related votes of Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Jon Tester, D-Mont., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz. – if she runs.

But first, we have to see if the House has the votes to impeach. Everything hinges on that.

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