Alejandro Mayorkas: Senate votes to reject impeachment charges

  • By Anthony Churcher
  • North American Correspondent

video title, WATCH: What led to Mayorkas' historic charge… in two minutes

The U.S. Senate has voted to kill the charges against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Majorkas, sparing him a hearing in the chamber.

It was the first time in nearly 150 years, and only the second time in American history, that the Senate considered the impeachment of a cabinet secretary.

If two-thirds of the chamber had approved, Mr Mayorgas would have been removed from office.

He was charged with refusing to comply with immigration laws.

The US House of Representatives has accused Mr Mayorkas of breaching the “public trust” by making false statements during congressional testimony.

In a near-partisan vote on Wednesday, senators rejected two impeachments filed by the House two months ago.

The Department of Homeland Security welcomed the decision.

The agency's statement said the impeachment vote “conclusively demonstrates that there is no evidence or constitutional basis to justify impeachment.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed a process by which Republicans would be allowed to hold talks and Democrats would offer procedural motions before moving forward with a vote to reject impeachment.

While Republicans objected, demanding a full investigation into the merits of the Mayorgas case, Mr. Schumer, Democrat of New York, forced a vote that effectively rejected the first impeachment charge.

“We made an offer to your side,” Mr Schumer said. “Your side objected. We're moving forward.”

Republicans made several unsuccessful attempts to delay the vote, which were blocked by the 51 Democrats in the chamber.

Ultimately, all Democrats voted to dismiss the first impeachment.

All but one of the 49 Republicans opposed, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who abstained.

The process repeated itself with a second impeachment, though Ms. Murkowski joined her Republican colleagues.

The chamber voted 51-49 to formally end impeachment proceedings less than four hours after 100 senators were sworn in as jurors.

Republicans had hoped to use the impeachment inquiry to draw attention to what they characterized as the failures of the Biden administration's immigration policy and the surge of undocumented immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border in recent years.

They expressed outrage at Mr Schumer's swift action to end the Senate's role in impeachment proceedings within hours.

They said it violated tradition and set a bad precedent for future impeachment proceedings.

“If the Senate holds a full impeachment inquiry, the border crisis evidence will put the Biden administration in a hole like a fish,” Republican Senator John Kennedy posted on social media before the vote.

“Senator Schumer won't let the House make its case, no matter how much he dismantles the Senate.”

Former US President Donald Trump was impeached twice by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives during his presidency.

Both times he was acquitted by the Senate after full hearings.

Senate Republicans tried to dismiss the charges against Mr Trump ahead of his first impeachment hearing – the same tactic used by Mr Schumer on Wednesday – but their efforts were unsuccessful.

Democrats, for their part, said the Republican-controlled House was abusing impeachment proceedings in February after a failed earlier attempt to impeach Mr Mayorkas by a single vote.

“This is the least legitimate, least substantial and most politicized impeachment inquiry in American history,” Mr Schumer said.

“The principle of impeachment should never be used to settle differences of opinion.”

Public opinion polls show immigration is one of the top issues concerning American voters ahead of November's presidential and congressional elections.

Earlier this year, Senate Democrats and Republicans negotiated a compromise package to reform immigration law and provide more funding for border security.

However, the effort failed after Mr. Trump and conservative Republicans argued that the legislation did not go far enough and was designed to help Democrats defuse the issue as a campaign issue.

Be sure to cite the Democrats' decision not to allow a full impeachment inquiry as evidence that Republicans don't want to settle on immigration.

They can use it on the campaign trail, especially against Democratic senators running for re-election in conservative-leaning states.

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