The 214-216 vote is a stunning loss for a GOP that has faced continual pressure from its right flank to impeach a Biden official, even as the party has waffled over which one to focus on.
The failure came about because of the surprise appearance in the chamber of Rep. Al Green (D-Texas), who showed up unexpectedly — having recently had surgery and wearing hospital scrubs and no socks, according to NBC — to vote against the bill.
Republicans entered the vote with two expected GOP “no” votes from Reps. Ken Buck (Colo.) and Tom McClintock (Calif.), but then a third House GOP lawmaker, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), also voted against impeachment. The surprise “no” vote prompted numerous GOP colleagues to gather around Gallagher for a lengthy conversation before the vote closed.
Democrats at several moments erupted in howls of “order,” asking that the vote be closed when it was poised to fail.
A fourth Republican, Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah), the vice chair of the GOP conference, then flipped his vote to “no” seconds before the vote closed, a procedural move that allows the conference to bring the legislation back to the floor at a later date.
Four House Republicans voted against the impeachment of Mayorkas: Mike Gallagher, Tom McClintock, Ken Buck, and Blake Moore
Moore* voted no but only as a matter of procedure so Republicans could bring the impeachment resolution back. pic.twitter.com/TqnmK8DtWM
“There was a motion to recommit. That means that we can bring the Articles of Impeachment back to the floor maybe as early as next week. So, this is not over yet,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) commented.
.@RepMTG following failed impeachment vote of Secretary Mayorkas: “There was a motion to recommit. That means that we can bring the Articles of Impeachment back to the floor maybe as early as next week. So, this is not over yet.” pic.twitter.com/wkccz1LyRL
House Speaker Mike Johnson’s spokesman Raj Shah said they “fully intend” to reconsider the articles of impeachment against Mayorkas “when we have the votes for passage.”
But next steps are uncertain. In the end, three Republicans opposed the impeachment, and a fourth Republican switched his vote so the measure could be revisited. The final tally was 214-216.
The outcome was another dismal result for the House Republicans who have repeatedly been unable to use their majority power to accomplish political goals, or even to keep up with the basics of governing.
Johnson, who could afford only a few defections from his ranks, had said earlier he had personally spoken to Gallagher and another GOP holdout, acknowledging the “heavy, heavy” vote as he sought their support.
“It’s an extreme measure,” said Johnson, R-La. “But extreme times call for extreme measures.”
Not since 1876 has a Cabinet secretary faced impeachment charges and it’s the first time a sitting secretary is being impeached — 148 years ago, Secretary of War William Belknap resigned just before the vote.
The impeachment charges against Mayorkas come as border security is fast becoming a top political issue in the 2024 election, a particularly potent line of attack being leveled at President Joe Biden by Republicans, led by the party’s front-runner for the presidential nomination, Donald Trump.