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Senate kills articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas

An official Senate photographs shows senators taking the oath at the start of the Senate impeachment trial on Wednesday.
The U.S. Senate
An official Senate photographs shows senators taking the oath at the start of the Senate impeachment trial on Wednesday.

Updated April 17, 2024 at 6:10 PM ET

The U.S. Senate has rejected both articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, swiftly ending the trial triggered by the House's narrow vote to impeach in February.

The articles charged Mayorkas with willfully ignoring the law and breaching the public's trust. Democrats called the opposition a policy dispute, and said it did not rise to "high crimes and misdemeanors," as required for impeachment. Republicans say Mayorkas is refusing to enforce immigration laws.

"By doing what we just did, we have in effect, ignored the directions of the House, which were to have a trial," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell after senators killed the second article. "No evidence, no procedure. It's not a proud day in the history of the Senate."

In a press conference after the trial, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he felt "very strongly that we had to set a precedent that impeachment should never be used to settle policy disagreements."

He said the Senate had to ward against partisan impeachments.

"If we allowed that to happen, it would set a disastrous precedent for Congress," he said. "Anytime the House would want to just shut the Senate down, they could send over another impeachment resolution."

House Speaker Mike Johnson told reporters he was "deeply disappointed" that the Senate dismissed the charges, saying "there should have been a full trial."

He said Mayorkas was "probably the least effective and I think most dangerous, in terms of his policy implementations, of any cabinet secretary in the history of the United States." Johnson predicted there would be a "reckoning" over the border issue in the November election.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green, R-Tenn., Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and their fellow Republican impeachment managers walk back through the U.S. Capitol Rotunda after transmitting articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate on Tuesday.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
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Getty Images
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green, R-Tenn., Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and their fellow Republican impeachment managers walk back through the U.S. Capitol Rotunda after transmitting articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate on Tuesday.

The Biden administration said the Democratic-led Senate made the right call and dismissed Republican efforts to attack Mayorkas unfounded.

"Today's decision by the Senate to reject House Republicans' baseless attacks on Secretary Mayorkas proves definitively that there was no evidence or Constitutional grounds to justify impeachment," said Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Mia Ehrenberg.

Republicans in both chambers are eager to put the issue of border security front and center during this election year. President Biden's handling of the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border remains a weak spot politically for him, according to recent public opinion polls.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Claudia Grisales
Claudia Grisales is a congressional correspondent assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.
Barbara Sprunt
Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.
Deirdre Walsh
Deirdre Walsh is a congressional correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk.