Senate quickly votes to dismiss impeachment articles against DHS Secretary Mayorkas

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WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats successfully voted to dismiss two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday, just hours after the trial formally opened.

The speed of the impeachment trial was an embarrassing blow to Republicans who had threatened to gum up the Senate and delay the proceedings in a bid to highlight what they argue is Mayorkas’ failure to secure the border and stop the flow of thousands of undocumented migrants at the border.

However, Democrats, who control the upper chamber, easily dispensed with the pair of impeachment articles — as well as several motions to adjourn the Senate.

They passed a motion declaring that the first impeachment article — accusing Mayorkas of failing to enforce immigration laws — “does not allege conduct that rises to the level of a high crime or misdemeanor” and “is therefore unconstitutional.” The party-line vote was 51-48, with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voting “present.”

Democrats also passed a motion declaring the second article — alleging that Mayorkas lied to Congress under oath — unconstitutional. That strictly party-line vote tally was 51-49.

The Senate then voted to end the trial "sine die," meaning for good, less than 3 1/2 hours after it began.

"Once and for all, the Senate has rightly voted down this baseless impeachment that even conservative legal scholars said was unconstitutional," said Ian Sams, a White House spokesperson.

“President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas will continue doing their jobs to keep America safe and pursue actual solutions at the border, and Congressional Republicans should join them, instead of wasting time on baseless political stunts while killing real bipartisan border security reforms.”

There was never a scenario in which Mayorkas would have been convicted, which would have required two-thirds, or 67 votes. From early on, the Democrats, led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, pledged to "expeditiously" deal with impeachment and then move on to other business.

Republicans, who had hoped to drag out the process and make it as politically painful as possible for Democrats, cried foul over how quickly the trial wrapped up. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said Democrats set a horrible precedent by rapidly dismissing the articles; he suggested this could mean the end of any future impeachment.

"It just won't make any difference, right? If you can impeach and then it will come over here and just be like, boom, gone, done, you don't have to do anything," Hawley said. "Why wouldn't a future Senate avail themselves of that to get rid of it and not have to go through a trial?"

Schumer fired back, arguing that it was Republicans who had set the "dangerous precedent" by "letting impeachment take the place of policy disagreements."

"Cabinet person after Cabinet person could be subject to this; we cannot have that happen," Schumer told reporters after the trial.

Senate President Pro Tem Patty Murray, D-Wash., presided over the trial on Wednesday.

A day earlier, the 11 House GOP impeachment managers, or prosecutors, walked across the Capitol to the Senate chamber and hand-delivered the two articles, accusing Mayorkas of failing to enforce immigration laws and secure the border, as well as lying to Congress under oath, including by saying the U.S. border with Mexico is “secure.”

After they read the articles on the Senate floor, the managers joined conservative senators at a news conference where they demanded a full trial and said a motion to quickly dispense with the articles would be unprecedented.

After the Senate voted to dismiss the articles, Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and his GOP leadership team issued a strong rebuke to Democrats.

“By voting unanimously to bypass their constitutional responsibility, every single Senate Democrat has issued their full endorsement of the Biden Administration’s dangerous open border policies," the GOP leaders said in a statement.

"Secretary Mayorkas alongside President Biden has used nearly every tool at his disposal to engineer the greatest humanitarian and national security catastrophe at our borders in American history."

DHS spokesperson Mia Ehrenberg dismissed the "baseless" impeachment in a statement, saying, "Secretary Mayorkas will continue working every day to enforce our laws and protect our country. It’s time for Congressional Republicans to support the Department’s vital mission instead of wasting time playing political games."

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